Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Blog Tour: Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis

Welcome to Day 8 of the SECRETS OF MOON AT NINE BLOG TOUR, featuring Moon at Nine – a timely new YA novel from humanitarian and award-winning author Deborah Ellis. Each stop on the 2-week tour will feature revealing posts, a chance to win a copy of the novel, and a chance to enter the grand prize giveaway!

Gay Rights in Iran and Worldwide
By Deborah Ellis

Moon At Nine deals with what happens to a teenaged girl who falls in love with another girl. In any country, at any time, this would be cause for concern, since the world is not yet a place fully accepting of differences. In l988 Iran, where the novel takes place, it is a situation that can have deadly consequences. Human Rights Watch and Iranian human rights organizations have estimated that, since l979, over 4000 lesbians and gays in Iran have been put to death. Lesbians and gays in Iran today deal with entrapment, harassment, being dumped into psychiatric hospitals and subjected to the lash. Stigma is so great against being gay that there is often no safe place to turn. In the words of Ali, a gay Iranian in exile, quoted in the Human Rights Watch report 'We Are A Buried Generation', "When your family does not accept you and wishes the worst for you, what can you expect from society?"

Ali's sentiments could be repeated in every country around the world—some more than others. Being gay is against the law in over 70 countries. Sometimes the punishment is a year or two in prison. Sometimes it is a lifetime behind bars. Seven countries still have the death penalty for gays and lesbians - Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Republic of Sudan, Yemen, Iran, and parts of Nigeria and Somolia. Yet, even in difficult places, there are reasons to hope. Faegheh Atashin, also known as Googoosh, is one of Iran's top pop singers. She promotes gay rights in her new music video to the song Behesht (Heaven). The video is about a woman in love with another woman. It has been watched by many Iranians over the internet or via illegal satellite, with the response being largely positive.

Moon At Nine is based on the true story of a teenaged girl who falls in love in the l980s. It is a story that happens in every country, in a world that could be kinder to young love. After all, we were all young once, and love is something to celebrate.
Enter below to win a copy of Moon at Nine!

***Stop by Manga Maniac Café tomorrow for the next stop on the SECRETS OF MOON AT NINE BLOG TOUR and another chance to win!***
Secrets of Moon at Nine Blog Tour Schedule:
April 28thBuried in Books
April 29th: Candace's Book Blog
April 30th: VVB32Reads
May 2nd: LiveToRead
May 7th: From A to Z
May 9th: Bookish

About Moon at Nine:
Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail or worse. The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be a homosexual in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?
About Deborah Ellis:
Deborah Ellis is the internationally acclaimed author of nearly thirty books for children and young people, most of which explore themes of social justice and courage. A peace activist, feminist, and humanitarian, Deborah has won many national and international awards for her books, including the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, the American Library Association’s Notable List and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. In 2010, she received the Ontario Library Association President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement. Deborah lives in Ontario, Canada.

Moon at Nine Giveaway:
Enter to win a finished copy of Moon at Nine! US/Canada only, please. a Rafflecopter giveaway
At each stop along the tour, readers will have a chance to enter the grand prize giveaway.
The Prize: One winner will receive (1) a set of 10 Deborah Ellis books, and (2) Pajama Press will make a $100 donation in their name to one of five charities: Canadian Women 4 Women in Afghanistan, UNICEF Canada, Street Kids International, Leprosy Mission - Canada, or IBBY - Children in Crisis Fund. (You can learn more about these charities at stop #2 on the tour.) The 10 books included in the prize pack are:
  • Moon at Nine
  • True Blue
  • Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
  • No Safe Place
  • My name is Parvana
  • Lunch With Lenin and Other Short Stories
  • A Company of Fools
  • Our Stories Our Songs: African Children Talk about AIDS,
  • Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children speak
  • Annaleise Carr: How I Conquered Lake Ontario to Help Kids Battling Cancer (By Annaleise Carr with Deborah Ellis)
US/Canada only please. Enter using the rafflecopter below! Ends May 12th at 11:59 pm EST.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

Let the Sky Fall (Let the Sky Fall 1)
By: Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Genre/Age: YA Paranormal
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who's swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.
Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She's also a guardian - Vane's guardian - and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.
When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra's forced to help Vane remember who is he. He has a power to claim - the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them - but the forbidden romance that's grown between them.

Let the Sky Fall has a wonderfully original paranormal twist. I’m a huge fan of paranormal stories, but after a while it kind of starts to feel like you’re reading the same thing over and over again, so I was delighted that Let the Sky Fall was something new. Everything from the setting to the ability to communicate with the wind felt like a breath of fresh air (har har… sorry, couldn’t help it! :P).

Shannon Messenger is an amazing storyteller, and I could really feel everything coming alive from the pages. Her descriptions were absolutely fantastic and if you’ve ever had even the tiniest desire to have the ability to fly (and haven’t we all!), this book will definitely make you long for sylphs to be real.

My one issue with the book is that it seemed overly long and it kind of felt like not that much happened, considering the length. That said, I’m definitely looking forward to the next book (I’m assuming this is the beginning of a series!).

If you’re looking for something a little different in your paranormal novels, you definitely don’t want 

to miss Let the Sky Fall!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Prodigy (Legend 2)
By: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Genre/Age: YA Dystopian
Pages: 384
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours
June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request - June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.
It's their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.
But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she's haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood - what if the Patriots are wrong?
In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action. 

I loved Marie Lu’s debut novel Legend, so I was thrilled to get the chance to read the sequel. I’ll admit that I didn’t remember everything from the first book (it’s been a while since I’ve read it!), but Prodigy picks up pretty much right where Legend ended and it wasn’t hard at all to get absorbed into the story again. There’s something about this world that just completely sucks you in.

Prodigy continues the dual narration, which I really love. It’s so interesting to get to see both June and Day’s perspectives, especially considering what different backgrounds they come from. We also get to see a lot more of the society that Marie Lu has created, which was something I was definitely hoping for from Prodigy after finishing Legend. I feel like I have a much better sense of how the society came to be and what’s really going on, rather than just the vague feeling we got from the first book.

We also see a lot of familiar faces in Prodigy, as well as several new characters, who I can’t wait to get to know more in the third book. And Metias! God, I don’t know what it is about Metias, considering how early he dies in Legend (not a spoiler!), but I’ve always felt such a connection to him and I mourned for him SO HARD, which just continues with Prodigy. I don’t know how Marie Lu has made me care about him so much, but I love it. There were tears, I’ll tell you now.

Prodigy is such a fantastic second novel. It’s packed with action and surprises and teasers of things to come. And oh my goodness, that ending! Ack, my heart. It’s both heartbreaking but also oh so perfect and I am SO excited for the next book. I cannot wait to see how this story ends!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

By: Jennifer Rush
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Genre/Age: YA Sci-Fi
Pages: 336
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev… and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab – not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

Altered is a wonderfully unique adventure that barely slows down from start to finish. It took a little while for me to really get into it, partly because it is so different, but once things got going I couldn’t help but get invested in Anna and her relationship with the four boys. It was a really fun dynamic to have one girl with four guys, and I really loved that Anna could hold her own with them. No damsels in distress to be found here!

There were several things that I predicted right from the beginning, which caused a lot of frustrated yelling at the characters for not realizing things sooner, but I actually enjoy getting that emotional about a book. And there were a few twists that I absolutely didn’t see coming, which was fantastic.

Altered doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but things are left open enough for the possibility of a sequel, and I would love to find out more about the Branch and their experiments. If you’re looking for a fresh sci-fi story that will pull you, and especially if you’re a fan of the TV show Nikita, I would definitely recommend Altered.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

By: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours & NetGalley

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret.

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast – and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence – to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed, and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way – people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

I absolutely adored Hannah Harrington’s debut novel, Saving June, and I was so excited to read Speechless. And while I don’t think that Speechless had quite as much magic for me as Saving June did, I still loved it and can highly recommend it.

At times, Speechless was incredibly difficult for me to read. The incident at the beginning that sets everything in motion was real and painful and I actually had to put the book down for a while and walk away. Which, even though it made me vaguely nauseous, is a great thing, because I love it when a book can affect me on that level.

On a related note, I really disliked Chelsea at the beginning and honestly doubted whether or not I would ever be able connect with her and root for her. This is usually a deal-breaker for me, because if I can’t connect to the main character it’s not likely that I’ll be able to enjoy their story. But Chelsea’s development throughout the novel was really well done, and Hannah Harrington did a great job at making it feel gradual and realistic. The Chelsea at the end of the book is still recognizable as the girl from the start; she still has flaws and issues to work out, but she does a lot of growing in between. I do have to admit though, I definitely liked her better when she wasn’t speaking.

However, I did love all the supporting characters in a way that I never really loved Chelsea, and they really made the novel for me. They’re all incredibly well-developed, and they managed to worm their way into my heart even with the minimal amount of page time they got.

Overall, Speechless is an engrossing and wonderfully written novel about one girl’s path to realizing what is really important in life. It will make you cringe, it will make you laugh, and it will make you think. I devoured it all in one sitting and I can’t wait for Hannah Harrington’s next book!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

By: Tamara Ireland Stone
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Sci-Fi Time Travel
Pages: 384
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate – and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning and spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new talent in YA fiction.

I went into Time Between Us expecting something like a YA Time Traveler’s Wife, and while there are definitely similar elements, this is a much different story. In Time Between Us the time travel aspect felt like it came second to the love story, which still makes for a sweet book but left me wanting a little more in terms of complications and obstacles due to the time travel. And I couldn’t help but question the logic of some of Bennett’s actions and decisions.

This is not to say that there aren’t any time travel shenanigans, because there definitely are and I truly enjoyed some of them. I especially loved some of Anna and Bennett’s first interactions. There is also an emphasis on the consequences and responsibilities of time travel, which I thought added a great layer. Is it okay to go back in time and change things? How much is too much? Although I will say that it bugged me a little that Bennett was willing to bend his rules for Anna even though she clearly had less experience with it than he did. Man, that boy was whipped. Haha.

If you’re a fan of time travel romance but the complexities of time travel tend to give you a headache, Time Between Us is the perfect book for you. The time travel is fun and easy to understand and you won’t be able to help getting swept up in the whirlwind romance of Anna and Bennett’s story.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney

By: Flynn Meaney
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary
Pages: 256
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

It’s all about supply and demand when a high school deals with the sudden exodus of male students.

The boy recession has hit Julius P. Heil High, and the remaining boys find that their stock is on the rise: With little competition, even the most unlikely guys have a good chance at making the team and getting the girl.

Guitar-strumming, class-skipping Hunter Fahrenbach never wanted to be a hot commodity, but the popular girls can’t help but notice his unconventional good looks. With a little work, he might even be boyfriend material.

But for down-to-earth Kelly Robbins, the boy recession is causing all sorts of problems. She has secretly liked her good friend Hunter for a while now, but how can she stand out in a crowd of overzealous Spandexers?

As if dating wasn’t hard enough without a four-to-one ratio!

I was immediately interested in reading The Boy Recession when I heard about it, mainly because my college had a similar male-female ratio (Okay, maybe not quite the same, but it sure felt like it sometimes!), and it sounded like a fun story that I could totally relate to. Having read it, I can say that I wasn’t really blown away, but it was sweet, cute story that I enjoyed reading.

My favorite thing about it was definitely the humor; there were several moments that had me smiling and giggling out loud. I loved the chapter headings in particular, taken from the school’s online newspaper. Some of my favorites:

“Popularity of Plaid Shorts Plummets as Preppies Flee Julius”
“Senior Girls Lobby to Take Over, Convert to Lounge Boys’ Bathroom in South Hallway”
“Cougars Among Us: Julius Juniors and Their Freshman Boy Toys”

The characters felt like SUCH typical teenagers: the boys weren’t drop-dead gorgeous and mysterious, they were juvenile and dumb and often pretty gross. Which isn’t what you always want to read about, of course, but it totally fit with this story. The stakes weren’t end-of-the-world high, everything was pretty chill, and everyone was just generally concerned with normal high school stuff, mainly whatever gossip was new in the dating scene. And there is a sweet, heartwarming happy ending that will for sure put a smile on your face.

A whole year passes in the book, and we generally just get flashes of scenes and hear about other things that happened in between chapters. This was a little jarring at first, but once I got used to it I enjoyed it. It made the book feel like a lot like a year of high school – when you look back you don’t remember every single day, but you remember the year in terms of the important events, those bigger moments when things changed – and I feel like that was really captured well with The Boy Recession.

This isn’t necessarily the kind of book that you can’t put down, that you’re dying to read every chance you get, but it’s a nice, easy read, and I’d recommend it for anyone looking to just chill out and head back to high school for a couple of hours.
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