Monday, April 28, 2014

Frozen by Erin Bowman (Taken book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the trilogy, Taken, Stop! I don’t want to ruin a fantastic series for you.

“A world built on lies is bound to collapse.” – “The time has come for them to make a stand.”

Gray Weathersby, along with a few other rebels including his father, Bree and Emma are heading west to see if they can find Group A. Gray is still unable to forgive Emma for moving on so quickly after they were separated and there is tension between them, especially with Bree now thrown into the mix. Gray now has feelings for Bree and a good old triangle has formed. Group A is a forgotten and supposedly abandoned part of the Laicos Project that Gray and Bree believe is inhabited. Ryder is hoping the Rebels can use it as a base and find survivors to join their cause. After two weeks of walking through fridge temps, they come across a town that shouldn’t be there. Owen scans the scene and determines that they will make camp there that night. They notice a ton of crows flying over the town. Entering the town of Stonewall, they see that it has only been recently abandoned. Walking through the snow, Bree is the first one to discover the bodies beneath the drifts. The group immediately spreads out to search. 

Gray and Bree head towards a church. They find a starving dog standing guard and decide to enter. The pews are filled with dead bodies and despite the cold weather, the building reeks of decay. Bree discovers a young boy but is unable to get near him. He tells Gray and Bree that everyone in the town died from the sickness. His mother said that it came from a city under a dome in the east. They willing brought it to their town knowing everyone would die. Grey and Bree know that Frank had developed a virus.  They had gone to Taem in an attempt to try and steal the vaccine against it. The boy doesn’t trust Gray and Bree because they are carrying weapons, just like the ones who brought the sickness. Bree is a little aggressive with the boy when they hear “Stop!” shouted behind them. It is Emma. Emma has an easy personality and it’s not long before Aiden and his dog walk with her for some dinner. He lets Emma know he doesn’t like the girl holding the gun (Bree). Emma lets him know that in time if he wants to tell her what happened he can but not everyone with a weapon is out to hurt him.

At dinner with the rest of the group, Aiden begins to open up. He has counted the days since the men in black uniforms first came to take their water. They began hauling it off; saying the rest of the country needed it. When a man from the blacksmith shop tried to stop them, he was shot dead. The next morning, people started getting sick. His mother locked him in his room with the only jug of water and a loaf of bread and told him to stay there. She told him to lock the window and keep it closed. He thought that he was being punished but as the days went by, he watched everyone in town die. Only when things were quiet, did he open the window and leave. He asks Emma if they are going to take him with them and she says yes. Soon, an argument breaks out between Owen and Emma. She tries to draw Gray into it. Thinking over the consequences, Gray says that the boy will die if they leave him behind. Owen agrees but only until they find a populated town where he can stay.

An hour before dawn, Aiden's dog is barking. Struggling to find his boots, Gray is the last one outside. In the beams of the flashlights, Gray sees his brother Blaine is holding a gun to the spy’s head. Owen doesn't trust the situation and pulls his own gun. Blaine explains that he left three days after them to tail any Order spies that Frank may have sent out. He proved himself capable. Ryder relented and let Blaine be the Rebel spying on the Order spy. He caught up to him just an hour ago outside of town, loading a gun. The spy, named Jackson, quickly gives up information to save his neck. If they kill him, Frank will just send another. If they keep him, he can help them get around populated areas. He is more interested on keeping his life than the success of the mission. Owen tells Blaine to knock Jackson out.

Owen keeps his gun trained on Blaine. With all of Frank's forgeries out there, Blaine must prove who he really is. He is able to name several scars and how they happened on Gray's body. He appeases Owen. Owen looks for the scar where Blaine had his own tracking device removed. Owen claps his son on the shoulder and announces that the spy is right. He will be a valuable asset to them, once his tracking chip is removed. The group must quickly leave because Frank will send someone else. Blaine and Owen are thrilled to be back together, even if Blaine might not be quite healed from his head injury.

When the group makes camp one night, Sammy tells the story about how "chaotic things were between the Continental Quake and the Second Civil War." He talks about why Robert Taem designed the first domed city and how a fight over fresh water caused the West to seceded from the East. Frank's father was the leader of AmEast until AmWest killed all of Frank's family in their attempt to kill members of the Order, Frank then began the Laicos Project to build soldiers for his army. No one has been able to stop him. He has also continued the work of his father and the citizens of AmEast and the Order remain loyal. Blaine is playing a game with Aiden when he reaches out to touch him. Thinking Aiden is being harmed, his dog attacks Blaine. Gray and Jackson are able to get the dog to release its grip. Emma comes to tend to the injuries and flashes a light in Blaine’s eyes. She asks if he is okay but just complains that the light was too bright. She doesn’t seem convinced.

Gray is tired when he goes on his guard duty shift. He hears rustling and at first thinks it is Bree leaving his tent to go back to hers. The he realizes that the sound is coming from the opposite way. Gray goes to investigate and sees Blaine and Jackson. Blaine is holding a knife out to Jackson demanding that he kill the dog. Jackson doesn’t want to because Aiden will be crushed. Gray asks what is going on and Blaine says nothing. Gray admits that he knows what is really happening, why he can’t just tell him. Blaine laughs and says he couldn’t tell him or anyone else either. They hear footsteps approaching and Emma comes into view, telling them that they will soon wake the entire camp. In an instant, Blaine grabs Emma and uses her as a shield, holding a knife at her throat. Gray pulls up his bow and arrow on instinct. Blaine shouts that he has figured it all out but Gray is confused. He figures that the dog was sick and now Blaine is too. Emma stammers that she knew something was wrong with both of them. She tells Gray that their pupils don’t dilate correctly and the reason begins to dawn on him. Blaine and Jackson are both Forgeries and Blaine was easily able to convince his twin. Gray lets his arrow fly, striking Blaine in the forehand. He drops to the ground. The camp springs to life. Gray begins checking the scars on Blaine’s body. The scar from the arrow wound on his thigh is missing. Bent over sick, Owen drags his son’s away from the scene.

The group questions Jackson and he tells them the whole story. Everyone wants to kill him right then and there. Jackson says that they would be fools. He is a “technologically enhanced soldier overloaded with secrets.” He contains maps, computer passwords and access codes; things they will need to make their mission a success. Gray isn’t ready to but his story but Owen says that he will live for now.

Who knows where Gray’s group was to be able to infiltrate two Forgeries? Will Gray be able to forgive Emma? Is Jackson telling the truth about the depth of his knowledge? Will he be able to alert Frank to their location and plans? Are there hidden survivors from the Order hiding out in Group A? Can Gray’s group reach Group A before being found out by the Order? And in their harsh surroundings, who will Gray be able to trust? Who will Gray decide to be with; Bree or Emma?

Readers will be left hanging for book three in 2015 to see how Gray’s battle will end.
Visit Erin Bowman’s website.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

“A lady never starts a fight… but she’ll finish it”

“Looking back, none of this would have happened if I’d brought lip gloss the night of the Homecoming Dance.”

Harper Jane Price is the perfect Southern belle. She is anticipating being crowned Homecoming Queen for Grove Academy. Arriving fashionable late for the dance, she enters the school with her longtime, handsome boyfriend, Ryan, her best friend, Bee and Brandon, Bee’s boyfriend. While waiting on the boys to finish parking the car, Bee remarks that Harper’s lips are nekkid. Knowing that she must remedy the situation before the Queen is announced, she tells Ryan that she will be right back. Walking through the quiet hallways of the school, she bumps into her worse enemy, David Stark. He has repeatedly slammed her in the school newspaper. Harper is the SGA president and he thinks she is too cliquey instead of being concerned about social issues. Having loathed him since daycare, he was the only child she ever bit; she attempts to be civil since his aunt is in charge of the Cotillion. Sparring with one another, they notice that the music has stopped. David tells her to run along and fix her lip gloss for her crowning. They part ways and Harper heads for the bathroom. She is applying the second coat of gloss when the door slams open. In stumbles the school custodian, Mr. Hall. He locks the door behind him.

Harper notices that he is bleeding heavily from his abdomen. She tries to help him. Mr. Hall opens his shirt and removes a pillow. She then notices the rest of his appearance. He is wearing an elaborate disguise and turns out to be quite handsome. None the less, he is still mortally wounded. He asks her name and comments that she runs the school. He needs her to protect and make sure that he is okay. The door begins to rattle and Mr. Hall says that he is there; he apologizes to Harper and presses his mouth onto hers. Struggling, she feels something icy flow into her mouth and down her throat. Harper begins to slip into darkness and thinks her parents will be devastated to lose another daughter. Harper regains her strength and looks at Mr. Hall’s wound. She thinks it could have been made with a medieval sword. Harper is about to leave when she remembers that she dropped her lip gloss in the sink and goes back to get it. Good thing because the door explodes inward.
She looks up to see her World History teacher, Dr. DuPont, in the doorway, holding a medieval sword. He enters and puts the sword against her neck. With her newfound strength, she grabs the sword and lowers it. Then, she head butts him. Dr. DuPont laughs remarking that he passed it onto her. He says that a worse choice couldn’t be made. After all, she wrote her paper on the history of shoes. He remarks that she is going to use her new super powers to become head cheerleader. She already is and kicks him in the jaw, knocking him down. The fight isn’t over and Dr. DuPont strikes back. He picks up the sword and Harper thinks that she is going to die. Dr. DuPont is saying something about a Paladin when she notices one of her stilettos. She grabs the shoe and uses the heel to stab him in the carotid artery. He dies and Harper gets cleaned up. With two dead bodies in the bathroom, she hears the announcement for the Homecoming Queen Nominees. Running, she realizes that she is going to be sick and heads into the boys’ bathroom. Throwing up in one of the stalls, a boy cries out. He comes up behind her, holding her hair back. He gets her some wet towels. She turns around to find that the mysterious boy is none other than David Stark. 

David makes a comment about her being pregnant but she glares and says no. She thanks him but he is curious about her being sick. He knows that she hasn’t been drinking but with that gleam in his eye, she knows that he is looking for something to contribute to her downfall. He turns to go but Harper stops him. He cannot see what’s left of the girls’ bathroom. She thanks him again and he is out the door. Hearing him walk away, Harper is confused. Looking out the door, she sees no sign of the battle she was just a part of. Harper is shaken and makes a high pitched sound. David comes back to check on her. He is genuinely concerned by her dishelmed appearance. Before she can tell him what happened, Bee and some other girls bust in. Harper was crowned Homecoming Queen and they have brought her the tiara. The girls and David trade barbs and he leaves. Harper tells them that she was sick. When Ryan takes her home, she asks him about schizophrenia since he wrote a paper on it for AP Psychology. He admits that he copied a paper his older brother wrote. They argue but soon make up. Harper is distracted, especially when Ryan apologizes her ripping her dress. (She actually tore it in the fight with Dr. DuPont) Ryan goes home and Harper sets out to prove if the night’s events really happened or if she is truly crazy. After discovering that she has been gifted with agility, super strength and impeccable fighting abilities, she scours the Internet for more information.  In one article, she notices the word Paladin. It is what Dr. DuPont called her in the bathroom. She finds out that Paladins are warriors and protectors, “charged with safeguarding a specific person or place.” She begins to wonder what Mr. Hall and now she must protect.

Why did Dr. DuPont kill Mr. Hall? What happens when Harper finds out that David Stark is the person she must protect at all costs? Why is he so important to need protection? Who is out to harm him? Will Harper to able to assume her new role? How will it affect her social life? Can she and David put aside their differences to work together? And are they really enemies or is something else brewing beneath the surface?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

"I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero. What happened? Dorothy. My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas. And I have a mission."

Madison Pendleton informed Amy Gumm that she was trailer trash on the playground three days before her ninth birthday. Ever since then, Madison has found a way to make Amy's life miserable. Nicknamed Salvation Amy, she and her mother, who wasn't always in her right mind since her car accident, live in the Dusty Acres Mobile Community. On the day the tornado struck, Amy caught Madison's eye after she was staring at her eight and half month’s pregnant belly. Exchanging barbs, Madison tells her best friend Amber that Amy is crushing over her boyfriend and baby daddy, Dustin, and wishes that she was carrying his baby. Madison overheard her talking to him in third period, offering to help him with his Algebra homework. Not wanting Dustin and definitely not his baby, she was also not the type of girl Dustin would go for. In fact, he has been "borrowing" Amy's homework for the past year and asked her to tutor him. The only thing Amy and Dustin had in common was the fact that they both wanted out of Flat Hill, Kansas. Dustin was on his way with a football scholarship before Madison got pregnant. Madison causes a scene by telling her to keep her hands off of Dustin. They are getting married after the baby is born. Trying to walk away, Madison grabs Amy's arm as she turns to leave and asks just who does she think she is, moving in on her boyfriend. Amy whispers that Dustin asked her for help. Madison is dumbfounded and says "what?" Amy says it again louder for everyone to hear. Their confrontation ends with Amy saying he just wanted to talk with someone his own size. Enraged, Madison punches her in the jaw and Amy falls down. The gathered crowd begins chanting "Fight!", "Fight!” Amber prods Madison as Amy attempts to back up, but not before the assistant principal sees them. Rubbing her belly, Madison puts all of the blame on Amy. She is suspended for the rest of the week.

Arriving home, she finds that her mother has rejoined the land of living for the time being. Al Roker is on TV pointing at a map of her hometown, frowning. Her mother tells her that a tornado is heading their way. Turns out, her mother has cleaned herself up to go to a bar for a tornado party. Amy lets her know that she got suspended for fighting with Madison. Her mother tells her that once her baby is born, Madison's life will over. Dustin won't stay around and she will be living in a trailer of her very own. Amy wonders if she is talking about Madison or herself. Her friend, Tawney, pulls up outside and her mother leaves. Amy looks around the trailer park and it is completely deserted. Even the highway is free of traffic. Amy looks towards the sky and sees the ominous clouds. The wind is howling and Amy ducks before she is hit with a flying lawn chair. Then, everything is still. She stands up and it is like something out of a movie, a funnel cloud is descending on the trailer park. Alone and nowhere else to go, she heads back into the trailer. Her mother's pet rat, Star, is hiding. She sinks into the couch as the trailer lurches. Soon the trailer is loose from its foundation and is flying through the air. Star comes out of hiding and licks Amy on her face. Always wanting to be anywhere but Flat Hill, a flying trailer is not how Amy wanted to leave.

Any wakes up on the ceiling of their trailer. It landed upside down. Star is scampering across her body in an attempt to wake her up. Amy hears "give me your hand" and sees a figure standing in the doorway. She cannot make out who it is. He tells her not to make any sudden movements. She is terrified but he is able to coax her to take two steps and grabs her hand. A spark passes between them and Amy is suddenly able to make out his face. He is the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. Amy asks if she is dead and tells her that they wouldn't be having this conversation if she was. She steps out of the overturned trailer and realizes that it is teetering on the edge of a deep ravine. When they step away, the trailer topples off the edge and pledges down. Amy never hears it hit bottom. She inquires if the tornado caused the canyon and he tells her that it has been there for a long time. She looks at her rescuer and thinks that he is probably her age and notices that he is very pale. There is something else about him that she cannot put her finger on but knows that it could be important. Looking around, Amy realizes that she isn't in Dusty Acres anymore. The landscape seems to have a "faded, washed-out quality" to it. There are "tiny, blue dust particles" floating everywhere. But not everything is blue. She notices that the boy is standing on vivid, yellow bricks. They lead towards the ravine and drop off. In the other direction, they stretch towards the horizon and Amy realizes that they are actually a road. Dropped in the middle of nowhere during a tornado, standing on a yellow brick road, Amy hopes that the state of Kansas finally decided to cash in on the whole Dorothy concept and built a theme park. The boy looks at her and says, "Welcome to Oz." Thinking she hit her head and is hallucinating, Amy laughs out loud. The boy looks at her apologetically. No munchkins or good witches in sight, she is standing in what Dusty Acres might resemble after a nuclear explosion. Stepping on the bricks, the road seems to pulse under her feet. He tells her that the road wants her, it wants everybody. The road has been there longer than anyone else. It has old magic that not even she understands. "Who's she?” Amy asks. The boy explains that there is so much Amy doesn't know and needs to learn and he wishes that she didn't. Amy asks if she is in Oz, what happened to it. The boy suddenly looks panicked and says that he has to leave. She begs him to stay. He comments that this is where it all began for her too. He doesn't know why she is there but it seems to be beginning for her. The two of them are so alike in so many ways but different too. He isn't powerful enough to help her but she can help herself. Prove him wrong and don't make the same mistakes that she did. He steps off the ravine and disappears. Amy is left alone.

She walks down the road until she reaches a town. No one is there, it is completely deserted. Amy realizes that munchkins once lived there. With moldy food left on the table, it seems that they left fairly quickly. She continues to walk around until she is the town square. In the center is a large statute of Dorothy Gale, commemorating her accomplishments in Oz. She hears a voice behind her saying that she likes her statues. When the voice comes near Amy, she realizes that it is a munchkin and a Goth one at that. She tells Amy that she won’t like her pink hair. They introduce themselves to each other and the munchkin is named Indigo. Amy asks for help and Indigo says that she has too many other problems to deal with. Begging, Indigo realizes that Amy is speaking the truth when she says that she is not from Oz. She wants nothing to do with Amy since she is from that Other Place and moves to leave. Indigo refuses to answer any of Amy's questions. She tries one last time. Oz is different from what she has heard her entire life, what happened? Indigo says that Dorothy happened and leaves.

Not knowing what to do, Amy follows the yellow brick road in hopes that she can find some answers in the Emerald City. As she is walking, Amy hears an intermittent banging noise. When she reaches the top of a hill, she sees a see saw looking contraption in the distance with about 20 munchkins on it. Then she notices the floating woman dressed in a ball gown. She rightly assumes that it is Glinda, the good witch. Before she can make herself known, she realizes that something is off about her. Indigo comes behind her and tells her that they need to get out of there before Glinda smells them. She offers to let Amy walk with her but only until they reach the Emerald City. Along the way, Amy learns how much Oz has changed for the worse since Dorothy became Princess. Her need for magic is insatiable and it is slowly destroying Oz.

Why and how did Amy get to Oz? Who is the beautiful boy who rescued her from her trailer? Why does no one want to help Amy? How did Dorothy come to rule Oz? Why has Oz changed from the story/movie? What happens when the two girls from Kansas meet one another? And why must Dorothy die?

Readers will be anxiously book two in the trilogy.

This prequel novella tells the story of how Dorothy Gale returned to rule over Oz. Dorothy is still the talk of the town from her sudden reappearance after the tornado that took Uncle Henry and Aunt Em's house and she landed in Oz. She was found by the chicken coop several days later without a scratch and no sign of the house. (We all know where it was.) She told her aunt and uncle about her adventures in Oz, but they didn't believe her and she shouldn't tell anyone else her tall tales. She did tell her best friend, Mitzi Blair, who also thought she was crazy. Now two years later on her sixteen birthday, Henry and Em throw her a small party, which is all they could afford. A few girls her age come, but they make fun of Dorothy and are downright relentless when she opens her gift from Aunt Em, a worn out dress of Em's that she attempted to refashion for Dorothy. Afterwards, Dorothy realizes that you cannot go home again and that "There's no place like Oz." She falls asleep.

When Dorothy wakes up, Toto drags a lavishly wrapped box to her. When she opens it up, lovely pair of red heeled shoes is revealed along with a note. Signed G, they are a replacement for the silver ones she lost and Dorothy will know what to do. They are supposed to be a secret but she still has them on when there is a knock on her door. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em come in but are taken aback by her new shoes. She tells them that they were wrong about her story. Dorothy decides she knows where she wants to be. She clicks her heels three times and her aunt and uncle grab he arms. She whispers "there is no place like Oz." All three find themselves in Oz, right next to their old farmhouse.

This prequel sets the stage how Dorothy came to rule Oz.