Second Look: This is Not a Test by Courteney Summers

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Title:  This is Not a Test
Author:  Courteney Summers
Genre:  Zombie Apocalypse
Age: 15+  (Violence, Suicide, Sexual Situations)

Plot Summary
After the prologue, the reader is thrust into Sloane’s new world when we find her and a group of six other teens hiding out in the local high school.  What are they hiding from?  Zombies, of course!  (Though Summers never actually uses the word ‘zombie,’ but rather “the dead.”)  The story follows the month-long stay in the high school.  However, things aren’t so easy for Sloane and her fellow survivors.  There’s built-in tension between Trace and the “leader,” Cary.  Trace and his twin sister, Grace, hold Cary responsible for the deaths of their parents.

As time progresses, they find someone has snuck into the school, despite their careful efforts at barricading the doors.  Mr. Baxter, their former English teacher, is not infected, but they don’t trust him.  When the their suspicions become too powerful, they force him to leave the safety of the school.

Throughout the story, told in Sloane’s point-of-view, the reader is stuck in Sloane’s head as she tries to come to terms with still being alive — something she desperately wants to remedy.  Sloane wants to die, which taints the story’s survivor slant.  However, (SPOILER ALERT), she doesn’t.  But, maybe she has something to live for in her companion, Rhys.

Likes and Dislikes contain spoilers!

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Article: 10 Swoonworthy YA Couples (Entertainment Weekly)

Personally, no one beats Hazel and Augustus.  Although I do agree with a few of them, I haven’t read others.  And I’m bias towards Twilight these days.

Which do you agree with?

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Hazel Grace Lancaster & Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars

First Encounter: Wry sixteen-year-old Hazel meets Augustus, a hot, sarcastic 17-year-old with a crooked smile, at their cancer support group. ”Goddamn,” Augustus said quietly. ”Aren’t you something else?”
Defining Moment: He reads her favorite book An Imperial Affliction.
Relationship Challenges: Hazel’s diagnosis is terminal.
Why They Work: Because they both understand what it feels like to be young and sick and still fully, hilariously, passionately alive. Because of Amsterdam. Because they deserved three lifetimes together. —Karen Valby

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Second Look: ONE KICK by Chelsea Cain

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Chelsea Cain, author of the best-selling ARCHIE & GRETCHEN series, is back with a brand new series featuring Kick Lannigan, the most famous abducted child in the United States.

Trigger Warning: The novel deals with child pornography and child abduction.

The Storyline: When she was 5 years old, Kit Lannigan was kidnapped by a child pornographer.  She’s rescued 6 years later by the FBI.  In the actual “meat” of the story, it’s 10 years later and Kick has trained herself to be on the defensive.  She’s capable in all sorts of weaponry and martial arts.  Kick has an obsession with looking for recently abducted children, along with her “brother,” James.

When John Bishop walks into her life (or rather, breaks into her apartment), he offers her the chance to bring an infamous, sadistic pedophile to justice.

Thoughts:  First off, I can’t get enough of Cain’s HEARTSICK books.  So when I had the chance to meet her at Book Expo this year, I was ecstatic.  I mean, seriously!  As much as I love Archie Sheridan, I’m glad to see Cain embarking on a new series.  And I absolutely love Kick.  And Bishop.  (I mean, holy hot mystery guy!)

The general idea of child pornography and pedophila makes me ill.  But Cain handles the topics with great care.  And I got so lost in the story itself that it was easy to forget the bad stuff.  It only really comes up as part of this particular plot line.  But, like HEARTSICK, if you can get passed the graphic violence, it is worth it.

Like: John Bishop.  I mean, talk about Tall, Dark, Handsome and Damaged.

Like: Kick is literally kick-ass.  I mean, she’s been through some shit and still has to work through issues, but she’s a fighter.  And as she says, she survives.  She fights through her trauma.

Like: The relationship between Kick and James.  It’s obvious how much they care about each other.  The truth behind their relationship comes out near the end of the novel, and it all makes sense.  However, it drives the plot nicely and helps bring everything together.  (Another aspect of great writing.)

Like:  Cain leaves a lot for the next novel.  It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger (well, it sort of doesn’t), but it gives you enough to scream and go I WANT MORE RIGHT NOW!

Like:  It’s just an amazing book.

There are absolutely no dislikes.  Not even the ick factor of the subject matter.

More, please!

Bonus:  Getting to meet Chelsea Cain at Book Expo.  She’s an awesome woman and I am awed by her.

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Goodie Bag:

Cain weaved Scrabble into the book.  And at BEA, she handed out Scrabble tiles that were either pins or pendants.  I got two. :D

Rating:  11/10 stars!

Release Date: August 12, 2014 (I’ve already preordered my copy!)

Second Look: Historical Heartthrobs by Kelly Murphy

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A perfect book for anyone vaguely interested in history — or definitely interested in heartthrobs — male and female — to give you knowledge for any trivia game!

Concise entries that cover only a 4-page spread including quotes and side notes give the reader just enough information to make them want to go read more than a Wikipedia page.

 

About the Book:  Murphy looks at 50 historical crushes in this short nonfiction book.  She offers great mini-historical biography lessons that are long enough to give you all the good information, but short enough that you don’t get bored and put it down.

The writing is fluid and hilarious — Murphy reminds me of myself as a writer.  She includes amazing puns and one-liners (example: “For a good time, call Ernest Hemingway.  Just don’t marry him” (p. 127).

I post-it noted several entries to read more about the person later, or at least jot the quote down.

LikeShe keeps it modern.  With the exception of Cleopatra, most of the crushes are at least discussed in History and English classes (sometimes science and Math, too!)

Like:  The pictures are great, but it’s not just about looks.  Intelligence is counted in the “hot meter” as well!

Like:  It’s a honestly good book.  I want Volume II!

Like:  She doesn’t discriminate based on ideologies or history’s view.

Overall Recommendation:  This book is great for any high school library (she does talk about sex lives), and it will definitely help get teens interested in history.

Rating:  9/10

Goodie Bag

Here’s a little preview of the spread for the entries, which I think totally sells the book itself:

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Second Look: Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad is the first book in the new series, Midnight, Texas, by Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries.

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Charlaine Harris is a long way from Bon Temps, Louisiana with her new series.  However, the change in scenery is nice.  Midnight, Texas is a small town.  Population = about 10.  However, I have a feeling she’s going to introduce more characters that live in the small one stop-light town than we know about.

Midnight Crossroad opens with Manfred Bernardo moving into the small, secretive town.  Manfred’s a psychic who spends most of his time doing internet fortune telling (all psychology, no actual psychicness).  And he soon learns everyone in Midnight has their secrets; he’s particularly glad he chose the small Texas town.

The Storyline:  The plot revolves around the discovery of one of the town’s resident’s — Bobo Winthrop — estranged (see: missing) girlfriend, Aubrey.  When Aubrey’s corpse is discovered, Bobo’s past begins to come to the forefront.  It turns out, his grandfather was a “revolutionary” for the white supremacist group, Men of Liberty.  Current members, including Price Eggleton, think Bobo has a hidden cache of weapons his grandfather collected.  And they want the weapons.

The way the novel’s written leads me to believe the subsequent novels in this new series will each revolve around one of the characters in Midnight.  This particular book focused on Bobo, but Harris has a slew of interesting characters.  For instance, there’s Fiji, a witch who can cast some serious spells (and has a talking cat); The Rev, a quiet and really mysterious preacher who keeps to himself and tends the Pet Cemetery; Lemuel, the energy-sucking vampire; Olivia, the eager-to-kill girl who goes out of town regularly and has a relationship with Lemuel; and Joe and Chuy, the gay couple in Midnight.  (And of course, Manfred himself.)

The Good Things:  It’s a great story.  And I’m intrigued to know what is going to happen.  The characters are lively and interesting.  Harris has always been good with creating characters that draw readers in.  Plus, it’s so different from the Sookie Stackhouse books, that it will be nice for new readers of Harris’s that aren’t interested in the world of Bon Temps.

The Bad Things:  Maybe because this is the first book in a brand new series, there were a lot of “issues” with this book:  (Contains slight spoilers)

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