Book Event Preview: NoVa Teen Book Fest 2018

NTBF Logo

NoVa Teen Book Fest
Saturday, March 10, 2018
9am – 5pm
Washington-Lee High School
Arlington, VA

Why you should consider going:
First off, it’s FREE. Secondly, this is one of the most well-organized, thoughtful, fun, and cozy author events in the DC area. The coordinators attract amazing authors, whether it be up and coming talent like the fantastic Jason Reynolds or industry legends like Holly Black.

My favorite part is how this festival groups and organizes authors onto panels surrounding a particular theme. The themes can be timely/relevant to modern issues or focus on a particular element of author’s craft.

Despite how fantastic the event is and it’s growing reputation, the venue is not overcrowded. The auditorium is comfy, the microphones work, the stage easy to see. The breakout rooms give attendees great opportunities to talk to authors in a small group setting. There is a free, covered parking garage for icky weather. And the festival arranges for various food trucks to stop by around lunchbreak.

Here is a link to this year’s schedule: NoVa Teen 2018 Schedule

And below are some authors/books that I’m excited to see this year!

Children of Blood and BoneTomi Adeyemi
Author of Children of Blood and Bone

Summary from Goodreads: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

The Belles

Dhonielle Clayton
Author of The Belles

Summary from Goodreads: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

One of Us is LyingKaren M. McManus
Author of One of Us is Lying

Summary from Goodreads: Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”

MoxieJennifer Mathieu
Author of Moxie

Summary from Goodreads: Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

UnearthedMeagan Spooner
Author of Unearthed

Summary from Goodreads: When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…

Before She Ignites

Jodi Meadows
Author of Before She Ignites

Summary from Goodreads: Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

Nyxia

Scott Reintgen
Author of Nyxia

Summary from Goodreads: Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

A Land of Permanent GoodbyesAtia Abawi
Author of A Land of Permanent Goodbyes

Summary from Goodreads: In a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family . . . until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future.

In the wake of destruction, he’s threatened by Daesh fighters and witnesses a public beheading. Tareq’s family knows that to continue to stay alive, they must leave. As they travel as refugees from Syria to Turkey to Greece, facing danger at every turn, Tareq must find the resilience and courage to complete his harrowing journey.

But while this is one family’s story, it is also the timeless tale of all wars, of all tragedy, and of all strife. When you are a refugee, success is outliving your loss.

Down and AcrossArvin Ahmadi
Author of Down and Across

Summary from Goodreads:
Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.

With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.

He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try–all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.

To Kill a KingdomAlexandra Christo
Author of To Kill a Kingdom

Summary from Goodreads: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

And many more authors will be there! That was just a sampling!
Hope to see you there!

Book Review: This Shattered World

this shattered worldThis Shattered World
by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Form: Purchased Kobo eBook
Big Themes: Space, Rebellion, Violence, Freedom, Love, Irish culture

This book is a sequel/companion book to These Broken Stars.  While it is not necessary to read the books in order because the books follow different characters, it is recommended.

Summary:
This book takes place on a planet on the verge of war. Soldiers are trying to keep the peace, but a mysterious mental illness is causing the soldiers to go crazy with violence. History between the soldiers and citizens/natives is tense to say the least, and tension is rising. Jubilee Chase is one of the soldiers. Flynn Cormac is one of the native rebels. But in this story reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, Jubilee and Flynn see something in each other beyond their side in this war.

What I Loved:

Initially, I really enjoyed figuring out all the ties to Romeo and Juliet. I enjoyed trying to figure out character equivalents and where the story was going.

I also really liked the bits of Irish culture embedded in a setting that was otherworldly. This element grounded the story as well as gave the reader something to grasp in a setting that was unfamiliar.

I liked the idea of Jubilee Chase, being a hardened soldier after a tragic childhood.

I liked the Shakespearean place names: Avon, Verona, etc.

I liked the home of the rebels and how they managed to stay hidden. The swampy setting was very original and fresh.

The ending helped pull the book together.

Criticism:

This book was much slower for me than These Broken Stars. I really struggled to finish it. Jubilee and Flynn did not come to life for me like Tarver and Lilac.  I think part of the problem for me was buying into their skills and talents as characters. I would have bought into Jubilee being a tough as nails if we had actually gotten to see her in battle. I would have bought into Flynn being a rebel leader more if we had actually seen him navigating his people through a challenge. In the previous book, Tarver and Lilac underwent so much when they crash landed that we saw their character through the hardships they went through.  I didn’t feel like this book had the same level of conflict and challenge. Instead, it felt a lot more like Jubilee and Flynn were observing and hiding and talking for most of the book.

I also didn’t really like the direction the book took being so similar to the previous one. I get that it was the author’s attempt to tie the books together, but it didn’t feel fresh to me. It felt forced. I would have preferred that the authors use this new planet setting to create a new conflict.

I also felt like the whole first half of the book was a tad confusing. I didn’t understand what was meant by the soldier’s going insane (I think we needed to witness that firsthand earlier in the book). I didn’t understand all the dreams at the start of each chapter. Looking back, I still don’t like how many dreams there were, and even now knowing what their purpose was, I don’t want to go back and reread them.

And… SPOILER.  SPOILER.  Don’t read below…

ThisShatteredWorld2

SPOILER:
I didn’t like that Jubilee and Flynn both didn’t die. I felt like it was a bit of a cop out. I was expecting it with the parallel Romeo and Juliet storyline.  I’d prepared myself for it.  And then it didn’t happen.  And I totally felt like the authors wimped out. Wanted their characters to have a happy ending. And so they didn’t kill them. And I think it might have been a better story if they’d died.

Overall:
Three stars. Not as good as These Broken Stars. Slow, didn’t like the characters as much, and weaker in plot. But still creative sci-fi and I enjoyed the ties to Romeo and Juliet.

Book Review: These Broken Stars

these broken starsThese Broken Stars
by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Form: Purchased Hardback
Big Themes: Survival, Social Class, Space Travel, Love, Death, Ghosts, Mental Illness, Strength, Trust

Summary:
Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen are from two different worlds.  Lilac is a socialite and focus of the paparazzi as the daughter of the wealthiest man in the universe.  Tarver worked his way up in the world as a military hero.  When their spaceship, the ill-named Icarus, is thrown from hyperspace and crashes on an uninhabited planet.  Lilac and Tarver are forced to depend on each other for support and survival in a wild, mysterious setting where social class means nothing and anything–even love–is possible.

What I Loved:

Totally Fresh and Original: This book didn’t feel like it was trying to be like any other book out there.  It felt fresh.  As I read, it felt like diving into something fun and different.  The book is described as Rose and Jack from Titanic, but where the ship sinks in the first five minutes, and then they land on the island from LOST.  So yes, there are hints of ideas we’ve seen before: poor boy loves rich girl, post-crash survival story, and mysterious setting.  Despite those familiar elements, the authors pulled off making this something entirely new and original.  Between this book, Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, and Beth Revis’ Across the Universe series, I think YA science fiction is showing great mainstream potential.

Unpredictable Plot: The twists and turns in this book were exceptional.  There were many, many parts of the book where I wasn’t sure what was going on.  Without spoiling anything, I will say that the elements that were similar to a ghost story were completely unexpected and a pleasant twist.

Slow, Authentic Romance: It takes a really, really long time for Tarver and Lilac to admit any sort of feelings for each other.  I enjoyed getting to know them as individual characters, especially since the book switches back and forth between both of their voices.  That dual perspective allowed readers insight into what each character respected about the other.  For example, Tarver is in awe of Lilac’s determination, though he does not express this to her.  Seeing how both characters grow to respect and admire each other was a refreshing perspective in teen romance.

Smooth Writing: This book was co-authored by two people who were living on different continents.  DIFFERENT CONTINENTS.  Technology clearly made this sort of endeavor possible (I think they specifically mentioned Google Docs.)  I am totally fascinated by the idea of writing a book with another person.  I just can’t fathom what the process would be like and how to begin meshing two different writing styles.  But this book flowed seamlessly.  Never was it obvious that this book was written by two people instead of one.  In fact, when I heard Meagan Spooner speak at the NoVa teen event last month, she said that it is difficult to remember who wrote what in the book.  They each started out writing one character.  However, I guess the editing process was more of a free-for-all.  Because Spooner said that they would tell each other “I love that line you wrote!” and the other would say, “I didn’t write that line, you did!”  I love that.  I love that a story would get to a point where no one person can take ownership.  I love that this book was such a collaborative effort!  🙂

Overall:
Five Stars.  I just thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I can definitely see myself picking it up to re-read one day.  Highly recommend!