Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.
Wyatt Baldwin’s senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.
But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.
With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong? (book back blurb)
This was such a neat concept that I couldn’t help but snap it up when it was offered to me. And the book didn’t disappoint.
I’ll start with what I didn’t like, which is pretty minimal. From an editing standpoint it was a bit head-hoppy. I definitely had to go back and re-read passages to make sure I didn’t space out in a scene or character change only to realize that I really didn’t. From one paragraph to the next you’d be bounced around from one character to another. It didn’t happen too often but often enough that it disrupted the flow of the story for me a few times.
Also the Auschwitz reference was a bit much. I don’t think it quite lines up with the objective of the story and it’s just tasteless and unnecessary. The story wouldn’t lose anything if that had been removed and I feel it was in there just for shock purposes and that kind of bothers me.
Everything else I really did like. Okon is brutal and I like that in a YA author. He’s entirely unapologetic with his nastiness and no one is safe. There’s a lot of gore going on in the story, however, it’s not over-described. I didn’t find myself getting nauseous at all while reading. Always a good thing. But that’s not needed. You get perfectly well what’s going on without all the detail and it’s more than enough.
I think Wyatt’s a great character and Carter was definitely number two in my book. I like that Okon gave us adults in YA that weren’t completely useless and just placed in the story to get out of the kids’ way. It made for a much more natural dynamic between the characters and for the story itself. I could have lived with less Sean, but I imagine that was the point. Annoying little brother.
I also liked how the story’s set in the future, but only about a step into the future, instead of hundreds of years. It gets you in the mind frame that this is something that could happen now, despite all the vampires and zombies and werewolves. And how the world he created, at least this little corner of Copper Valley, wasn’t a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland after the outbreak. It’s normal but it has something abnormal happening really close to it. It grounded the story even more.
I think MONSTERLAND provides something different for the YA category that really isn’t otherwise present, not only in type of story but in teen/adult relationships. I think Okon balances the whole step-parent issue really well without going to extremes (evil step-parent need not apply). It’s a good book, a great story, and I think a lot of people will find it really entertaining in a sometimes creepy, sometimes funny sort of way.
I received a copy of this book from the author through The Children’s Book Review in exchange for an honest review.
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And you all know what was last month . . . BEA! I went, I saw, I killed my feet. It was actually really, really bad how much my feet hurt by the end of that day. I could barely stomach it. But it was totally worth it. I didn’t really take any photos within the exhibit hall, but I don’t normally. I took some of the Hillary Clinton and Al Franken events I went to but that was about it. If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen those (if you don’t follow me on Instagram, why not? *side-eyes sidebar*)
I won’t keep you hanging. Here’s my haul.
This was my first BEA since moving to Arizona (last time I went was in 2012 just before the move) and I was extremely conservative with what I grabbed while there. Mainly because I had to ship everything back. No longer could I just stuff everything in a suitcase and drag it back to Connecticut with me. And with a $41 handling fee per box PLUS the actual cost to ship I figured one box was enough. And I filled it. Comfortably. None of this overstuffing.
One of the benefits of going on the last day is publishers are trying to purge the stock they brought with them so they don’t have to lug it back to the office. So I ended up with some totally random (but cute!) stuff.
I was thrilled by all the comics that were there and how it’s becoming such a mainstream and popular (and accepted) medium for reading. While I’m not the biggest Dark Crystal fan I will give the comic a try! And give me a moment while I pet The Wicked + The Divine. Ugh, love that one.
And who doesn’t love swag? Again, super conservative with it this year. Stuck mostly to bookmarks. I do wish I grabbed a few more pens. I can always do with more pens. But I’m sure I’ll survive.
I really hope they start switching coasts again with the show. It’s been a long time since they’ve done that. Granted last year was the first year out of New York City since 2008, I think. Still, some variety would be nice. It works for ALA! Maybe New York, Chicago, LA? Please?
And a couple of digitals that I downloaded earlier in the month. There always seems to be one or two of these a month, just sneaking them in there. Because my reading pile isn’t already unmanageable. It’s literally larger than the library itself. Such problems I have.
To quote myself:
Gardner really capitalizes on blending the realistic with the astronomical with the gruesome and the compelling and weaves it all together into a story that sucks you in and doesn’t spit you back out until the very end.
You can read the rest of my review here.
FIND HER’s protagonist, Flora Dane, is a survivor. After being kidnapped and held by her captor for over a year, anyone would say that her matriculation back into a “normal” life was an all-around success. But normal isn’t exactly how Flora feels. When a college student–who reminds her far too much of herself–goes missing in a strikingly familiar fashion, Flora knows that she must do something to help, despite that fact that it could mean putting herself in danger. Flora is the only one who knows what a captor like that is capable of, even after all these years.
The search to find the kidnapper at large and unravel Flora’s past twists together in a compelling dual-narrative. Gardner dives into the dark underbelly of Boston’s nightlife while also casting light onto one of the lesser-known branches of the FBI, Victim Specialists.
FIND HER in its trade paperback format will be the beach bag accessory of the summer. It’s a perfect introduction to Lisa Gardner for new readers and an exciting addition for dedicated fans.
Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.
Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.
Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire. (goodreads.com)
Ugh. If there ever was a sequel just as good as the first in a series, it’s A CROWN OF WISHES. Written in the same golden prose as A STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN with a story that stabs you in the gut and a heroine that would sooner set you on fire than save you, I couldn’t get enough of it. I just want to eat it all up.
But then I might turn into a werewolf creature. And that would be bad. Maybe.
Gauri is Maya’s sister, for whom A STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN was about. And she does make a brief appearance in A CROWN OF WISHES, but don’t expect a lot. This is Gauri’s story. And she’s so incredibly fierce and determined and vengeful and sometimes pig-headed. I actually think Chokshi balanced her character well, creating a wholly likable person in Gauri while being incredibly flawed and not obnoxious. Personalities like Gauri’s, if overdone, can come off forceful and off-putting. But she was snarky, witty, and all around awesome.
And, like the first one, there was some prince being in need of rescuing. I love that Chokshi keeps flipping the story like that. Gives me the warm and fuzzies.
And let’s not forget the world. My god, the world! Just as strong and vivid as in the original, it’s its own character in the book, coming to life on the pages as Chokshi weaves a dark and dangerous and appealing web of her world. I couldn’t get enough of it, the world whore that I am.
If there were to be a third book, and I’m thinking there might be, I think I know just whose story it might be, and my god. I can’t wait. MOAR! When’s the next one coming out? What do you mean A CROWN OF WISHES isn’t out yet? How’s that relevant? MOAR!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Click the link to read an excerpt from A CROWN OF WISHES! –> A Crown of Wishes_Blog Tour Excerpt
This was the book that first introduced me to Mari Mancusi about ten years ago and it’s been love ever since. And not only because she totally love-drops The Lost Boys in her Blood Coven series. It’s a fantastic set of books with awesome characters and a plot that’ll suck you in right from the beginning and won’t let you go until the very end.
Mari recently had the rights to the series returned to her so she’s re-releasing the whole set with brand new covers! And starting today through February 17th you can get a copy of BOYS THAT BITE for free on Amazon Kindle! If you haven’t checked out the Blood Coven series yet, now’s the perfect time to start.
Two sisters–as different as the sun and the rain. For one, getting into the Blood Coven is to die for. But for the other, getting out could be lethal…
When Sunny McDonald gets dragged to Club Fang by her twin sister Rayne, she doesn’t expect to find anything besides a bunch of Goth kids playing at being vampires. But when some guy mistakes Sunny for her dark-side-loving sister and bites her on the neck, she finds out that his fangs are real–and deadly.
Now, Sunny has less than a week to figure out how to reverse the bite, or else she’s going to end up as the perpetually undead. And not only will she be a vampire, she’ll also be bonded to Magnus–the bloodsucker who bit her–forever. And forever is a really long time… (Amazon.com)