Book Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

SERIES. Article 5, Book One
RELEASE DATE. January 31, 2012
PUBLISHER. Tor Teen
PAGES. 362
FORMAT. Hardcover
AGE GROUP. Young Adult
GENRE/S. Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic
FIND IT. Amazon | Goodreads

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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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

THOUGHTS. Wow could already be an understatement for this book. But wow is the only word I could think of for Article 5.

Simmons brought me to another appalling and exciting world of a dystopian. The world she built is one of the worst and the bleakest world ever written—even compared to the actual wars and worst events in the recorded history of mankind. It reminded me of the German Nazi and Martial Law in the Philippines but much worse. The world in Article 5 isn’t just an imagination. It was all too real for me: the corrupt government, the heartless soldiers, and the cruel acts. Simmons made me cringe and angry with the world she created. Thus, she crafted one of the best—and terrifying—dystopian books ever.

At the same time, it wasn’t easy to tear away from Article 5 especially with characters that are engagingly and vividly written. Ember and Chase both embody the classic dystopian characters: strong, willed, hopeless, and flawed. I loved how Simmons brought them together to fill each other’s needs. Simmons also captured the essence of both love and hatred to every character in the story. The level of romance she laid was neither too plain nor too much but at times complicated which left the next book more room for romance.

With every page, she managed to soak in different dystopian elements that had me promptly turning the pages, kept me up the whole ungodly nights, and heavily gasping for air: action-packed scenes, escalating tensions, and perplexing surprises.

At nearly four hundred pages, expect only the best in Article 5: pure action, pure adventure, and pure cruelty at its best. The world Kristen Simmons etched will stay long with you even after reading it. Even if you closed your eyes, images of war, death, guns, soldiers and maybe even Ember or Chase would linger on the back of your mind. It’s addictive. It’s irresistible. It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t ask for more.

Just like The Hunger Games and Divergent, Article 5 is undoubtedly a mind-blowing action-packed novel. All you need to do is grab it quick and read it quick or else you’ll get a citation for not doing so.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Kristen Simmons has a master’s degree in social work and is an advocate for mental health. She lives with her family and their precious greyhound Rudy in Tampa, Florida.

Book Raid: In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters plus Giveaway

BOOK RAID is an exclusive blog feature here in Mr. Book Wonder that highlights debut or latest books by way of an author interview.

I am very much excited--ahem--I mean, I am here again for my weekly Book Raid report. I had the chance to Book Raid, I could say, one of the highly anticipated books of this year. Below is the recorded interrogation I had with author Cat Winters. Just don’t mind the creepy sounds in the background.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by CAT WINTERS
RELEASE DATE. April 2, 2013
PUBLISHER. Amulet Books
BUY FROM. Amazon

SYNOPSIS. In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

THE INTERROGATION WITH CAT WINTERS

Cat Winters

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Cat Winters was born and raised in Southern California, near Disneyland, which may explain her love of haunted mansions, bygone eras, and fantasylands. She received degrees in drama and English from the University of California, Irvine, and formerly worked in publishing.

Her debut novel, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS—a YA ghost tale set during the World War I era—is coming April 2, 2013, from Amulet Books/ABRAMS. She currently lives outside of Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two kids.

Miss Cat Winters, you have been suspected of hiding details of the book, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, from the readers. If you are not guilty of these suspicions, then I'll interrogate you with some questions about the book.

How different is IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS from other books out there?
It’s pretty different in the sense that I blend several genres together. It’s a historical novel that digs deep into the world of 1918 America, yet it’s also a ghost tale, horror story, and mystery. The book is set during World War I and the Spanish influenza pandemic—two deadly forces that killed millions of people around the globe—so there’s a sense of panic and despair that almost feels apocalyptic. People expecting a typical YA paranormal ghost tale have been surprised (usually in a good way) to find there are several more layers to this book.

How much mystery, romance, or suspense do we have to expect in IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS?
The love story between my protagonist, Mary Shelley Black, and her first love, Stephen Embers, spans the entire novel, from the first chapter to the last, and out of their relationship and their deaths (one of them dies early on in the book; the other dies momentarily but survives) evolves the mystery and suspense. One of the characters isn’t resting peacefully, and the other one wants to know why not.

What did you like writing the most: the beginning, the middle or the ending?
That’s a really hard question to answer. I spent a great deal of time revising the book, and different sections became my favorite parts at different times. Initially, the beginning was the easiest to write. The first chapter, especially, poured out in one sitting. I don’t know—I honestly enjoyed writing this entire book.

What was your favorite chapter or part to write?
Chapter three has always been one of my favorites. It contains a flashback scene that shows Mary Shelley and Stephen’s last day together before Stephen heads off to war. I really enjoyed creating moments between them that conveyed both the innocence and the darkness of their lives.

Provide us a short quote or two from IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS.

'Someone was with me.'

'I’d experienced that sensation before, in the dark, fresh out of a nightmare—the belief that something was staring at me from across the room in the shadows of my furniture. In the past, the stranger always ended up being a doll or a chair reflecting moonlight. But this time I was positive someone would be there if I checked.'

Thank you for your time Miss Winters! It is advised that you are free of all the suspicion of hiding IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS from the readers!

GIVEAWAY
Cat Winters has offered to give away an In the Shadow of Blackbirds swag pack to one lucky reader. To enter, follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter. Giveaway is open to everyone. You must be 13 years old or above to enter. Winners will be notified via email. Giveaway ends April 14, 2013.



Stay tuned for another week of book raiding! You might discover a new favorite read!

Cover Unveil: Made of Stars by Kelley York

Kelley York's upcoming novel, Made of Stars has unveiled its cover art and you can see it live here at Mr. Book Wonder. Made of Stars cover art provides an air of mystery with glittering snow, creeping branches of trees and that broken font for the title. Anyone would definitely be intrigued to read the book. Let me know what you think.

Made of Stars by Kelley York
RELEASE DATE. October 2013
PUBLISHER. Entangled Teen
PURCHASE. Amazon | Barnes & Noble

SYNOPSIS. 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?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Kelley York writes anything from dark to light, contemporary to paranormal. She was born and raised in central California where she still resides with her lovely wife, daughter, and an abundance of pets. (Although she does fantasize about moving across the globe to Ireland.) She adores all things furry, be them squeaky, barky or meow-y, is a lover of video games, and likes to pretend she’s a decent photographer and artist. Her life goal is to find a real unicorn. Or to at least write about them.

Book Finds: The Burning Sky

BOOK FINDS is a regular feature that spotlights upcoming book releases that I am looking forward to read.

THE BURNING SKY by SHERRY THOMAS
RELEASE DATE. September 17, 2013
PUBLISHER. Balzer + Bray

SYNOPSIS. It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to revenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

WHY I'M WAITING FOR THE BURNING SKY? The Burning Sky is another high fantasy book that I am looking forward to read. I am quite obsessed with elemental magic that I couldn't just resist this book.

What are you waiting for? Share your thoughts below.

Cover Unveil: Timespell by Diana Paz

Check out the beautiful cover art of Diana Paz's Timespell. Let me know what you think of it!

Timespell by Diana Paz
RELEASE DATE. April 1, 2013
PUBLISHER. Rhemalda Publishing
Add to Goodreads

SYNOPSIS. Sixteen-year-old Julia Corona is a Daughter of Fate, destined to travel through time to battle the creatures of Mythos who seek to change history. Julia would rather use her powers to ditch PE than fulfill her duties as the Daughter of Present, but her best friend Angie, the Daughter of Past, can’t stand the thought of their magic fading away, which is what will happen if they can’t find the third Daughter soon.

Then they discover the Daughter of Future is Kaitlyn, the bullying bad girl who tried to steal Angie’s boyfriend. Suddenly a world ruled by demons doesn't seem so bad compared to being magically bound to Kaitlyn for the rest of their lives.

Julia is ready to kiss the magic goodbye until she meets Ethan, an intense young man who claims to be her protector and seems to know Julia better than she knows herself. He looks at her with a strange mix of longing and resentment that Julia can’t explain. Before she gets a chance to solve the mystery, the creatures of Mythos strike, opening a portal in Revolutionary France.

The Daughters of Fate must set aside their differences and band together with Ethan to travel back in time to close the portal, but someone close to them will betray them, making their task nearly impossible. The history books are changing, and it may already be too late.

Diana Paz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Diana Paz writes books about magic, adventure, and romance. She was born in Costa Rica, grew up on Miami Beach, moved to Los Angeles in high school, and went to college in San Diego. Basically, she’s a beach bum. Diana graduated from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts. She loves old movies, epic fantasy, all kinds of music, and heading to the beach with a good book. Preferably sipping a highly sweetened iced coffee.

Book Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

SERIES. Shatter Me, Book One
RELEASE DATE. February 5, 2013
PUBLISHER. HarperCollins
PAGES. 480
FORMAT. ARC
AGE GROUP. Young Adult
GENRE/S. Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction
FIND IT. Amazon | Goodreads | The Book Depository

SYNOPSIS. tick
tick
tick
tick
tick
it’s almost
time for war. 

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance. 

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible. 

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

THOUGHTS. Reading Unravel Me didn’t take me a day, two days, or three days to finish. It took me longer than expected. It took me several days of slow contemplation, several days of careful judgment, and several days of utter wonderment. And there were many two reasons why: one, I wanted to absorb every word of every line of every page of this book; and two, it just happened that no warning sign was again issued to me that transported me to Juliette’s tangible world at once and I couldn’t get out—so easily.

Once again, I was left blinded by Mafi’s beautiful and mesmerizing words. Ever since Shatter Me, I have become a solid fan of Tahereh Mafi simply because of how she carefully chose words and uniquely played with them that inexplicably resonate a thousand emotions. Even with her juxtaposition and tropes of themes—like death, fear, hope, love and redemption—to both living and non-living things plus the constant strike-throughs made this series a truly unique and breathtaking experience.

But as we all know, the strength of this series never stops there.

Let us not forget the stars of this series, the brightest indeed; the amazingly flawed characters of Juliette, Adam, Warner and Kenji. In Shatter Me, Mafi introduced us to them with missing and puzzling pieces of their lives and their personalities. This time, in Unravel Me, they’re almost too human to be considered as fictional characters. Mafi had unraveled them; amplified them. It’s refreshing to see a side of them I never knew in Shatter Me. Mafi also brought out a new cast of characters that tested, ruined and took out the best in the characters that made this journey worthwhile. Eventually, Mafi is not only a master of imaginative prose. She is also an author who can create characters in such a natural way that you will love them, hate them, scream at them and root for them as they come to terms of their own powers and their own destinies.

Unravel Me is, without a doubt, Mafi’s most gripping work yet. Mafi was able to keep yet outdid her style and skill in Unravel Me thus making it a stronger sequel than its powerful debut. She ambushed me with scenes both alluring and intoxicating, gunned me with words both beautiful and unforgettable, and bruised me with revelations both intensifying and shocking. Tahereh Mafi’s style of telling a story is just addictive, irresistible and at times magical. What makes it so are not just the harrowing story and the unique way she writes but by the way her characters are manipulated and prejudiced by love.

With the surprising turn of events in Unravel Me, I suppose Tahereh Mafi has something more in her sleeves and that I cannot wait to know. I’m just appalled that one day, Mafi will come out holding out the ending to my world to this series, only to taunt and to torture to amaze and to surprise me once again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Tahereh Mafi is a girl. She’s 24. She was born in a small city somewhere in Connecticut and currently resides in Orange County, California, where she drinks too much caffeine and finds the weather to be just a little too perfect for her taste. When unable to find a book, she can be found reading candy wrappers, coupons, and old receipts. 
SHATTER ME is her first novel.

OTHER BOOK/S IN THE SERIES

Blog Tour - Author Interview: Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey

As part of Kristin Bailey’s blog tour for her debut steampunk fantasy book, Legacy of The Clockwork Key, I had the pleasure of interviewing her today in the blog.

ABOUT THE BOOK
RELEASE DATE. March 5, 2013
PUBLISHER. Simon Pulse
PURCHASE. AMAZON
Add to Goodreads

SYNOPSIS. A teen girl unravels the mysteries of a secret society and their most dangerous invention in this adventure-swept romance set in Victorian London.

When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key—a key that only Meg can use—that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow.

Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect—and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.

INTERVIEW WITH KRISTIN BAILEY


ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Kristin Bailey grew up in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley in California. As a kid she enjoyed visiting the beach, camping and skiing with her two brothers.

Now she is a military wife and mother of two young children. She is also terrible about spoiling her pets. She has one fluffy mutt, two cats who think they own the world, and a fish tank with a quartet of fat fish, and two secretive striped ninja-assassin snails.

In the course of her adventures, she has worked as a zookeeper, balloon artist, and substitute teacher. Now she enjoys writing books for teens who enjoy mystery and adventure as much as she does.

Have you really seen yourself become an author?
I used to write stories all the time, even very young. I distinctly remember writing a story about a princess trying to run away from the castle because her brother was being mean to her when I was seven, but writing for a living never seemed like a real possibility to me. It just didn’t seem like something people really did. In my mind it was almost as if authors sprung up out of the ground with their newest books in hand. I never imagined I’d become one.

Before becoming an author, how did you see yourself in the future when you were a kid?
I thought I would be an exotic animal veterinarian. I went to college intending to go on to vet school, but then I became hooked on my literature and especially my courses in Shakespeare, and I started writing for classes, then writing on my own.

What or who inspired you to be become an author?
It was a roommate just after college who said, “You should write a book,” and something clicked, so I sat down and I started researching how people go about getting published, and I wrote a book. Nearly ten years after that point and about six full manuscripts later, I actually got published. Writing is not a game for the impatient.

Briefly describe to us the exact feelings you got before and after you finish your first book—the writing process, getting a call from an agent, getting approved by a publisher, etc.
I remember being so proud of myself when I reached the end of my first book. It is a terrible novel and will never see the light of day, but at the time I believed in it and I felt for the first time I had really accomplished something. I did it. I wrote a book. I made it to the end. I am still proud of that accomplishment. Ten years later I was on the verge of giving up and trying to get back into my artwork when I finally got “the call”. I was really emotional about it because I was on the verge of giving birth. I remember being honored that my agent was so excited about my work that she called me on a Sunday, and I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when I said that an editor made an offer and it was from the publisher of a book he was reading at that moment. That is one of the most proud moments of my life.

Why did you choose the steampunk genre over the other genres? Do you want to explore other genre/s as well?
I didn’t really choose steampunk so much as it chose me. I just wanted to write a story that felt like the classic Victorian children’s stories that I loved growing up, like Peter Pan, or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I chose to write about Victorian inventors, and all that equation lines up to equal steampunk in the minds of most people. I love steampunk, especially the creative talents of the people involved in the movement, and I hope I honored that sense of creativity. I also like writing science fiction, fantasy, and romance.

Tell us more about your current book, Legacy of the Clockwork Key.
Legacy of the Clockwork Key is at its heart and soul an adventure story. When I was writing it, I was possessed by inspiration, and I can see reflections of just about every story or movie I deeply loved as a child in the book. A couple of them were deliberate homages, and some of them were unintentional, but every time I read the book I’m reminded of all the stories I have loved in my life.

It’s a simple story really about a girl who discovers her family and her past are more complicated than she first expected. As she unravels some of the secrets her family kept hidden from her, it sends her on a quest to unearth terrible and beautiful inventions that have been hidden throughout the English countryside. As she sinks deeper and deeper into the adventure, she finds herself tangled in a murderous plot driven by power, madness, and desperation. While she untangles that mess, the bigger issues about the truth of what happened to her family will drive the plots of the other two books. By book three everything will wrap up for Meg, and I promise, there will be no secrets left undiscovered. It is going to be a wild ride.

What is the most striking or unforgettable line in Legacy of the Clockwork Key?
I do have one single favorite line from the book. It makes me smile every time I read it. I get the same giddy sense of “Oh no!” in my heart each time I read it, but it is slightly strange taken out of context.

Meg and Will are exploring a giant labyrinth when Meg realizes it is built to be a mock up of the labyrinth at Knossos. Will is unfamiliar with the story and so Meg fills him in and tells him all about Daedalus, Icarus, Ariadne, etc, when they hear something and stop in their tracks. Will asks, “What is that?”

And Meg, realizing she knows exactly what it is, says my favorite line in the entire book.

But I’ll let you discover what it is.

Did you ever base any of the characters in real life?
The only character in the first book based on real life is Meg’s grandfather. I kept thinking about my own great-grandfather every time Meg thought about him. I miss him terribly. There is a short essay that is hidden away in a secret compartment somewhere on the homepage of my website. If you’d like to know more about him, you can search for it by “looking” around the page with your mouse for hidden buttons. There are also original sketches of Meg’s costume details and how they change through the story, and a page that is still blank right now, but will include some concept art for the trailer that is coming soon.

Was there a part of the story that was hard to write?
Dealing with the pacing in the beginning and the middle was a little difficult and required some editing to speed things up and keep the sense of immediate danger as heightened as possible. I think that was the one thing I really struggled with.

What advises can you give to aspiring authors (like me)?
The only one who can stop you from succeeding in this business is you. You are only “done” in this game the minute you give up. There’s always a bigger better story to write, and I’ve never known a writer to become worse at writing the longer they work hard at it. This isn’t a job for those who are discouraged easily. In the end, love writing, love the struggle, never give up, and no one can stop you. When you do finally get where you wanted to be, don’t let the struggle make you jaded. Do your best to be honest, professional, and kind.

Thank you so much for being a part of the tour and for being someone who loves to read.

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