Arriving: 4/15/2014Standalone Novel
From the acclaimed and award-winning author: a beguiling new novel about an eavesdropping boy working to discover the obscure mysteries of his unraveling family. He uncovers instead what he least wants to know: the workings of his parents' private lives. And even then he can't stop snooping.
Miles Adler-Rich, helped by his friend Hector, spies and listens in on his separating parents. Both boys are in thrall to Miles's unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is "pretty for a mathematician." They rifle through her dresser drawers and strip-mine her computer diary, finding that all leads pull them straight into her bedroom, and into questions about a stranger from Washington, D.C., who weaves in and out of their lives. Their amateur detective work starts innocently but soon takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family's well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Once burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil, and proceed to concoct hilarious modes of revenge on their villains and eventually, haltingly, learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.
Susan: Since reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette I have been trying to find a book in a similar vein, and I am hopeful that this will be it. First, it involves looking at a troubled marriage through the lens of the child involved. Second, there is logical modern use of computers in the plot (somehow this seems rare in the books that I've been reading). And third, there are some heavy-sounding issues that may be developed over the course of the novel. I'm not convinced this will be as much fun as Bernadette, since it seems to lack the satirical humor, but I'm looking forward to trying it.
Alyssa: I haven’t heard of this one before, but I really like the cover! It sounds kind of like a more intense version of what I did as a kid, inventing mysteries and writing about them in notebooks. I’ll wait for your verdict before deciding if it merits a spot in my TBR pile!
Arriving: 5/6/2014Third (and final) book in a series
The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.
America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.
From the very first page of The Selection, this #1 New York Times bestselling series has captured readers' hearts and swept them away on a captivating journey... Now, in The One, Kiera Cass delivers a satisfying and unforgettable conclusion that will keep readers sighing over this electrifying fairy-tale long after the final page is turned.
Susan: At the rate that Alyssa and I complain about America's vacillation and Aspen's emotional abuse, it could seem generous of us to put this on our list of eagerly awaited books. But the Selection series is COMPLETELY ADDICTIVE and I want this last book to wrap up everything neatly and sweetly. America/Maxon all the way. How can author Kiera Cass successfully kill off the mean king to clear the throne for the more even-tempered Maxon? (Will Aspen forsake his vows of loyalty to commit regicide?) And, most pressingly, I want to see more of the book bandits!
Alyssa: I always feel like I have to acknowledge that the writing in these books is not the best, but they’re still so fun for me. Frothy, even! Well, as you know, we had some problems with the second one (America’s wishy-washiness, Maxon’s weird ultimatum, the fact that Aspen’s terrible boyfriend material), but it has certainly given us a lot to talk and laugh about. And when I read the preview chapters of The One you sent my way, I was definitely gnashing my teeth and wanting the rest of the book LIKERIGHTNOW. I have a feeling we may end up having a live-texting session as we both read it!
Arriving: 5/13/2014Third (and final) book in a series
Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo and the Tonton...until she meets him and he confounds all her expectations with his seductive vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to create and build a healthy, stable, sustainable world…for the chosen few. The few who can pay.
Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Still uncertain, her connection with DeMalo a secret, Saba commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, anxious for the land in New Eden, Saba leads an inexperienced guerilla band against the powerfully charismatic DeMalo, in command of his settlers and the Tonton militia. What chance do they have? Saba must act. And be willing to pay the price.
Alyssa: Ignore the goofy, teenager-y covers. This series is great! It’s dystopia of a sort I’d never really encountered before, in a future beyond “Wrecker times” (that means us, y’all) when the planet was destroyed, and has since recovered to an extent and resulted in a sort of country, Dust Bowl, Old West-flavored society. The writing style is one you’ll either love or hate, written in a rustic, Old West-y, uneducated-sounding vernacular. I really adore it, since it does so much for the setting and culture in the book. There was some weirdness in book two, but it was nothing that altered my enjoyment of the series, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the story ends up!
I haven't read any of this series yet, but I trust your taste, and I like dystopian YA. Plus the heroine looks bad-ass on that cover, no?
Arriving: 5/13/2014Standalone Novel
Paul O'Rourke is a man made of contradictions: he loves the world, but doesn't know how to live in it. He's a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God.
Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online "Paul" might be a better version of the real thing. As Paul's quest to learn why his identity has been stolen deepens, he is forced to confront his troubled past and his uncertain future in a life disturbingly split between the real and the virtual.
At once laugh-out-loud funny about the absurdities of the modern world, and indelibly profound about the eternal questions of the meaning of life, love and truth, TO RISE AGAIN AT A DECENT HOUR is a deeply moving and constantly surprising tour de force.
Alyssa: I think I remember reading about this one in Entertainment Weekly! I thought it sounded both interesting and potentially terrifying...
Susan: This is another one of my attempts to find a book sibling for Bernadette, and it's probably going to be closer in tone to it than Casebook. It sounds like satire (yay!), and again asks questions about our lives in the Internet age. Even independent of Bernadette though, this book has the potential to be one of the most interesting reads of the year. I find contemporary YA a great genre for exploring what identity means in our lives, but this plot seems perfect for reexamining one's long-held identity.
Alyssa: But to be clear, this one is not YA, right?
Susan: Correct! This one is a general adult fiction novel. Now we just have to hope that it gets nominated for some snazzy adult book award so we can feel in the loop in the genre for once.
Arriving: Summer 2014?Standalone Novel
Zack Lightman is daydreaming through another dull math class when the high-tech dropship lands in his school's courtyard-and when the men in the dark suits and sunglasses leap out of the ship and start calling his name, he's sure he's still dreaming.
But the dream is all too real; the people of Earth need him. As Zack soon discovers, the videogame he's been playing obsessively for years isn't just a game; it's part of a massive, top-secret government training program, designed to teach gamers the skills they'll need to defend Earth from a possible alien invasion. And now…that invasion is coming.
As he and his companions prepare to enter their ships and do battle, Zack learns that the father he thought was dead is actually a key player in this secret war. And together with his father, he'll uncover the truth about the alien threat, race to prevent a genocide, and discover a mysterious third player in the interplanetary chess game he's been thrown into.
Susan: YES!! Another novel by Ernest Cline, creator of Ready Player One, one of my favorite reads from last year. This one also looks to be blurring the boundaries between games and real-life, which Ready Player One did so successfully. Granted this one sounds a little more like it walked out of Ender's Game, but I trust Ernest Cline and his treatment of game culture.
Alyssa: People have already been flipping out about how much it sounds like Ender’s Game or The Last Starfighter, but I recently came across an article/interview that addresses this. The article writer states, “It might sound like a rip-off of The Last Starfighter, but there’s one key difference: in Armada, Lightman has seen The Last Starfighter. He’s probably seen it a dozen times, like Cline himself.” He then quotes Cline, who explains,
“In a zombie apocalypse movie, nobody’s ever seen a zombie movie…or in an alien invasion movie, nobody has ever seen an alien invasion movie like Independence Day. That’s what Armada is—if an alien invasion happened today, we’d be aware of all of that and reference all of this pop culture…and we would have expectations of how an alien invasion would go.”I think that’s an important distinction to make, and after the wonderful imagination, humor, and fun of Ready Player One, I trust this dude. On top of that, the article I reference was published on 3/11/2014, which makes it the most recent news I’ve come across about Armada! I’m not convinced it will actually come out this summer, since it still doesn’t have a listing on Amazon, but I was heartened to read that the manuscript is complete, at least.
Arriving: 8/5/2014Second book in a series
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to "read" objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, "America's Sweetheart Seer." But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners' abilities...
Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?
Alyssa: Libba Bray is kind of my spirit animal. I love her skillful blending of historical periods and the occult, and the first book in this series, The Diviners, was both scary and riveting. Who doesn’t love the 1920s and supernatural shenanigans? I’ll probably need to re-read the first before I pick up this one, but I remember there were some deliciously dangling threads that hinted at awesome things to come in this second installment in the series.
Susan: OMG. I don't love supernatural shenanigans when they are as terrifying as what went on in The Diviners! And when you sing "Naughty John" to me I want to lock myself in a safe room on a bed of Bibles. That being said, The Diviners was great and I am eager to see how the characters continue to grow throughout the series. Just during daylight hours. With somebody nearby to distract me if I get too scared.
Arriving: 8/26/2014Second book in a series
After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.
Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.
Alyssa: You sent me your ARC of the first one in this series, The Burning Sky, but I still haven’t read it yet! I’m in kind of a reading rut right now, though, and I think it might be just the thing to break me out of it. This cover for the second one is really pretty!
Susan: YES! Read it! I'm a little concerned by this plot description for the second book ("a divergent path"? Methinks Epic Reads is bringing in an unusual word from its mega-seller), but I can't wait to learn more about the magic in the series. And enjoy more of the She's the Man hijinks around the Eton campus.
Arriving: 9/30/2014Standalone Novel
From the author of THE SUMMER PRINCE, a novel that's John Grisham's THE PELICAN BRIEF meets Michael Crichton's THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN set at an elite Washington D.C. prep school.
Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC's elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.
Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus--something about her parents' top secret scientific work--something she shouldn't know.
The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.
Susan: I may have said it a few times already, but I loved The Summer Prince. It was speculative fiction with layers of eloquence and literary quality, a combination that made finishing the book bittersweet. Love Is the Drug made it onto my most wanted list as soon as I saw the author's name. Although this release has very little in common with the setting of The Summer Prince, I have high hopes that the details will be as interesting as the ones in the earlier novel. Another reason to cheer: Alaya Dawn Johnson does careful science research for her sci-fi, so her virology has to be more scientifically accurate than the last virology I saw in a novel (Inferno by Dan Brown).
Alyssa: Sounds like a cool YA thriller, and I like the contrast between the title and the plot blurb.
Arriving: 10/14/2014In the world of a series, but works as a standalone
Clariel is the daughter of the one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most importantly, to the King. When her family moves to the city of Belisaere, there are rumors that her mother is next in line for the throne. However, Clariel wants no part of it—a natural hunter, all she ever thinks about is escaping the city’s confining walls and journeying back to the quiet, green world of the Great Forest.
But many forces conspire against Clariel’s dream. A dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she discovers hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?
Alyssa: I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED ABOUT THIS BOOK. I have been waiting YEARS to go back to the Old Kingdom!!! 11 years, to be precise. (I’m not counting the Across the Wall collection, because it only contained one Abhorsen-related story.) Garth Nix is one of my favorite authors, and the Old Kingdom/Abhorsen series is my favorite of the many he’s written. Favorites upon favorites! I’ve been hearing rumblings about Clariel for a couple years now, so I’m SO glad to see it’s being released at last. These books are the reason I got so upset when a zombie crossed a river in the most recent season of The Walking Dead! I subscribe to the Nix-canon of risen deceased, and UNDEAD CAN’T CROSS RUNNING WATER, BITCHES. Whoa, that would be a fantastic crossover—Sabriel and Lirael visit zombie-infested Georgia. How much easier would life be for Rick and Co. if they had some bandoliers of bells?
Susan: I am a latecomer to the Old Kingdom novels, having only read Sabriel just before our blog started last year. I can't believe it took me so long to get to these books! I love the writing style, the role of the Abhorsen, the sense and bravery of the protagonists, the sweetness of interactions. . . I could probably go on. I'll be glad to return to the world with this release.