She aims her camera, framing the shot from her place in the bushes. As always, Lauren (aka Panda) wants to go unnoticed. Anonymity is critical when exacting revenge via her blog. The photos she is taking tonight will bring retribution for another. Panda is a vigilante of sorts, specializing in bringing justice down on those who deserve it with her camera and computer.
Her target this night is Keachin, a stunningly beautiful, popular girl who was unusually cruel to Nina, a girl who needs crutches due to cerebral palsy. Keachin is hardly an angel to those she believes are beneath her, but hiding Nina’s crutches was too much for Panda to endure.
Gray (Panda’s alias on her blog) has many followers. Sticking it to those who deserve it turns out to be popular on the internet. Her post about Keachin catches the attention of a lot more people than usual and ultimately leads to a huge scandal and death for someone involved.
Panda is more determined than ever to keep her identity secret (people who are exposed do not tend to be happy about it). Someone who calls him/herself the Admirer has uncovered Panda’s secret and uses it to blackmail her into a ‘game’ that pushes each of them to dangerous places.
So many questions and so much tension…this is a nail biter for sure as Panda finds herself trapped in the mess she created with no easy way out.
The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war. Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should have never met. Lee is captain of forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents. Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion. Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelenting war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape to the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.
“The girl is standing on a battlefield, and it’s the street she grew up on. The people here don’t know a war’s coming, and every time she opens her mouth to warn them, the city called November drowns her out. A car screeches past, a siren wails, children laugh, a holoboard starts playing its looped ad high above. The girl screams, but only the pigeons at her feet notice. Startled, they fly upward and disappear into the bright patchwork maze of laundry lines and lanterns crisscrossing overhead.
No one hears her.”
That is the opening line of This Shattered World, sequel to These Broken Stars. It made a huge impact on me and let me know that I would ultimately find it okay that This Shattered World is not about Tarver and Lilac, the characters I came to love from the first book. No, this is about a new couple, as each book in the Starbound Trilogy is. The second I started reading from Jubilee’s perspective, though, no thoughts about Tarver or Lilac cropped up, which shows the talent both of these authors have: they can create separate characters, with separate goals and situations, but in the same world, without making me love the old characters more or less.
Though, I do approve of the Tarver and Lilac cameo. 100% approve.
Here’s a funny story: I was on a plane when the cameo happened unexpectedly. So, that left me with a bunch of random passengers, my mouth wide open, grinning idiotically, without anyone to talk to and share the excitement with. My mom was trying to sleep and she shushed me every time I began to squeal to myself. I had to keep it in and make myself read past the glorious Tarver & Lilac cameo, without giving myself a complete chance to process what I had just read. Funny story, but not at the time.
This was me at that unfunny time.
Anyway, with the cameo done for the moment, I continued reading and found myself swept up once again in the descriptive and beautiful world, in the characters and their journeys, in the whole book itself. Just like These Broken Stars, This Shattered World is written with a dual perspective, so I was the reader, both of my feet hovering on a white line that separated Jubilee and Flynn, the line that separated both of their peoples, both of their worlds, both of their sides on the bloody war they’ve been participating in for years. That line was slowly erased as Jubilee and Flynn found each other, and I didn’t root for either side any more; I rooted for Jubilee and Flynn, both as people and as lovers. The banter between them is addictive to read, and watching them go from enemies to friends to falling in love with one another was amazing.
“Are you in love with this vess-this person?”
I gape at him, caught off guard. The absurdity of the question here, in the bowels of a secret research facility, conversing with a creature from another universe, is so striking that I have to fight the hysterical impulse to laugh. But his eyes are so grave, so serious, that the urge fades and I’m looking left at him, my heart tight and painful.
“I-I don’t know,” I whisper. I remember the shape of his heart and mine, and his kiss at the water’s edge. “But I wanted the chance to find out.”
Speaking of the secret research facility and the other creature from another universe, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner have seriously upped their game in the departments of all things paranormal and creepy. I was on the edge of my seat during the ending, tense and worried about my favorite Captain, Jubilee Chase, and my favorite rebel, Flynn Cormac. Expect a mind-blowing ending if you pick up this book. Expect it. Love it. I did.
Final thoughts: this is a must read. Kaufman and Spooner put so much time into developing likeable characters, expanding their already creative and cool world, and setting up for what I’m sure is going to be an epic conclusion to the Starbound Trilogy. Who else hopes that the last book will be about Sophia Quinn? *fingers crossed*
HAVE YOU READ ANY BOOKS IN THE STARBOUND TRILOGY? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THEM? IF NOT, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SCIENCE FICTION BOOK?
Synopsis: When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft’s numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft’s passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn’t right–and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder. While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he’s busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den–literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again…
“What if Sherlock Homes was the boy next door?”
Every Breath is a modern spin on Sherlock Homes, but with two teen sleuths, one murder, a whole bunch of lions, and one adorable romance between two characters with immense chemistry. Set in Melbourne, Australia, we follow Rachael Watts (Elementary, my dear Watson!) as she adjusts to life in the city, and forms a friendship with her clever, curious, and slightly eccentric neighbor, James Mycroft. I had so much fun following these two protagonists as they ran all around the city together, trying to find the murderer of one of Mycroft’s friends. Scaling buildings and being thrown into a lions’ den were only some of the adventures these two had, but the story as a whole focused on many aspects such as family, friendship, love, abuse, murder, and mental illness.
One of the best things about this book was the characters. Rachel and Mycroft were such lovable, flawed, and unique characters. Though they were a team, both of them had their own pasts and problems, and were not afraid to argue with each other. There was so much whit and banter between them and I loved every moment of it. With these characters comes great chemistry that eventually leads to an amazing romance.
“If you looked inside his brain at this moment you’d see all the little synapses, Catherine wheels and penny bangers and skyrockets, all firing off into space in some sparkling display of gathering momentum. I don’t want to look into his brain. Looking into his eyes is bad enough.”
As for the setting, I felt like I was transported into a cross between London and Australia! Though I had to look up a few Aussie words and phrases, I was excited to be plunging into such a realistic setting of a place that I’ve never experienced in a book before. The setting was written with so much detail and I felt like I could be right next to Mycroft and Rachel, with my two feet on the ground in Melbourne, Australia.
Summing up: A fun debut full of clues, dangerous and risky situations, and two teens sleuths who you’ll have to make room for in your heart, or at least mark them down on your list of favorite characters. I know I did.
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams tells the story of Kyra, a 13 year old girl who lives in a polygamous cult known as “The Chosen Ones”. She is the second oldest daughter in her family of 20 children (with two more on the way) but serves as the oldest because her sister Emily suffers from non-specified mental retardation.
The family is currently living on a compound under the tyrannical and cruel rule of The Prophet Childs, his apostles (one of whom is Kyra’s Uncle Hyrum) and a frightening group of enforcers known as “The God Squad”. The Prophet Childs has outlawed reading from any book except for the Bible.
Kyra’s only way of rebelling is walking outside of the compound walls to check out books from the Mobile Library (or as we’d call it, the Bookmobile) that she reads hidden in her favorite tree.
Kyra’s life changes forever when the Prophet Childs tells her family that he has had a vision, and that she is to marry her Uncle Hyrum, a man who is nearly 60. Kyra detests her Uncle and is sick at the idea and is torn between staying and marrying her Uncle or attempting to flee to the nearby city, alone and afraid.
Why I read it: I’d never read any books about Polygamist cults and I was curious.
Why I loved it: The author, Carol Lynch Williams does an excellent job at bringing Kyra to life. I was sucked into Kyra story, urging her on, hoping for her, biting my nails and just wishing that everything would be okay.
In the time of Mozart and Haydn, the role of women and girls in Vienna, Austria is narrowed to home and family. However, after the death of her father, Theresa takes on the role of copyist to the composer Haydn to solve what she believes is murder. She finds treachery, betrayal, prejudice, and intrigue aplenty, along with love and true friends. This historical mystery, set in the glittering eighteenth century court of Vienna, has a gripping story along with a central character whose problems, though framed in a different time than ours, are still very real today. The Musician’s Daughter was recently featured in the Chapter-A-Day email book club, as the teen pick.