School Was Never This Bad

Recently I read a great book called Monument 14. Quarantine by Lex Thomas is a deeper, darker version of the YA End of the World As We Know It genre!

It took me longer to read but it was so worth it. I am so excited for the sequel and to recommend this to customers looking for a great summer read.

Quarantine is the story of a group of kids that are locked in a school after a boy carrying a dangerous virus (deadly to adults) escapes and runs into their school. Part of the school is blown up in an attempt to get rid of the kid and we end up with a school on military lockdown.

Quickly the students break off into groups with the strongest, athletic and popular kids at the top of the chain and everyone else struggling to survive.

David Thorpe and his younger brother Will have no gang to belong to. They have only each other and that is a problem in and of itself. This modern version of Lord of the flies is rife with conflict of good and evil and the struggle we all face with it within ourselves. Eventually they and others like them join together to become The Loners. This is where the real fun begins.

The interaction of the various cliques, the relationship between the brothers and even the school itself provide many intriguing moments. I was thrilled, appalled and disgusted at times. I was chagrined, saddened and empathetic. Most importantly I am waiting on pins and needles for the sequel to come out! Quarantine Book 2: The Saints can’t come out soon enough for me!

For fans of Maze Runner, Monument 14 and Erebos. Highly Recommend you add it to your summer reading list.
5 out of 5 Reads


The Sky Caught Fire, Now What?

A few weeks ago I read Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne and was blown away by this original story of a group of kids caught at the inception of the apocalypse. Yes it’s another YA Dystopian novel but it presents it in new and interesting ways that really leaves you thinking.

In the sequel, which luckily I only had to wait a week to read, the battle continues on two different battle grounds. One inside the store where Dean and a few others remained, the other on the road as Niko, Alex and the rest of them head to Denver and hopefully rescue for the others. Will the kids make it to Denver? What troubles will the kids in the store face?

Book two is just as visually stunning, heartbreakingly disturbing, and genuinely touching as the first. If these books were movies I’d be on the edge of my seat for the entire ride. The second story is half the size of the first and I was ready for disappointment. Instead I was thrilled beyond belief and left hanging, waiting breathlessly for the next book.

Maybe the writing isn’t spectacular and there is to some degree repetitiveness but not nearly as much as many of the books I’ve read lately. None of this bothered me because I thoroughly enjoyed the straight forward simplicity the author uses to keep the story moving. Despite the numerous amount of characters and the many places involved it isn’t difficult to keep things straight in your mind.

I really enjoyed both books and was thrilled to find that Sky on Fire didn’t suffer the sequel ‘Let Down’ that often happens. I have been recommending it to everyone who enjoyed Maze Runner, The Knife of Never Letting Go and the like. I think that this is definitely a series to watch! If you haven’t read it yet I say give it a try.

I would recommend these books for both boys and girls but definitely ages 14+ due to some sexual content and violence.

4 out of 5 reads

Phenomenal Read in Monument 14

One of my favourite things about working in a book store is when I come across a book while shelving and I think to myself ‘Well that sounds good. Maybe I’ll give this one a try.’, and then the book completely blows me away. This is what happened when I chose Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. I chose it on a whim thinking it might  be good enough to recommend to the parents that come in looking for a book for their son to read. What I got was a phenomenal read for anyone that enjoys YA dystopian fiction. What I discovered was a book that rivals Hunger Games.

An unexpected tale of survival, similar to Lord of the Flies, Monument 14 is a terrifyingly beautiful look at how a group of kids survive earth shattering disasters and a chemical weapons spill. On the way to school one morning two buses are caught in a massive hailstorm causing one bus to overturn while the driver of the other one drives through a nearby super store to protect the kids on board. This courageous driver goes back to rescue the kids on the other bus and deliveries them to the safety of the store. The driver tells the six high school, two middle school and six elementary students to lock themselves in the store until she comes back and to let in no one but her.

The story takes place over 12 days as the older kids struggle with their own fears while trying to keep the young ones from freaking out. The struggle for power, the desperate need to bring some normality to a bizarre situation. The exposure to dangerous compounds that effect each person differently depending on their blood type. All of this and so much more show the amazing resilience of the human spirit, of how good and evil reside in all of us, and what it takes to really survive. It shows that no matter our differences physically, intelligence, language, or age we are all necessary to survival. We each bring our own strength and capabilities to the groups survival.

A glorious tale that will grip you from beginning to end, a phenomenal read that will you leave you wanting more, that you will devour in one sitting is what you’ll get when you pick up a copy of Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. I suggest you pick it up at your earliest convenience. The only disappointment would be in the cliff hanger ending.  Luckily I only have to wait for the end of May for the sequel,  Monument 14: Sky on Fire.

Monument 14: Sky on Fire



The Bridge

The Bridge begins with a small group of kids trying to survive in a war they suddenly find themselves participating in when just two weeks ago it was something they knew existed but was vaguely on the periphery of the world.

Nik is in school and has been fiercely studying so that when the time comes he will be excepted into the ISIS (Internal Security and Intelligence Services) unlike his friends at school, Nik is an orphan. He is also different in both looks and attitude. For example he has learned to speak Breken from one of the guards at the school. Something that becomes very useful when he finds himself (along with Fyffe) across the bridge in Moldam (enemy territory) looking for Sol (Fy’s 8 year old brother) who has been kidnapped.

Jane Higgins has written a good story that falls into the very popular dystopian fiction genre. It is a story that speaks of prejudice and corrupted power. It speaks of how easily we as humans can turn on each other. Of the constantly ongoing battle of right and wrong, good and evil. Of hope.

In the beginning I found myself struggling to find an interest in the story. I was instantly encouraged by how well I felt I knew the characters but that interest started to fade with the never ending overload of information about this new world I found myself in. Names of new cities, peoples, etc were constantly coming up and frankly I found it annoying.

But half way through the story I was so invested  in the characters and their story that I moved past that and was able to engross myself in their world and endure their struggles with them. By the end of the story I was looking forward to finding out what their future will be.

This is a good story for fans of Maze Runner, Blood Red Road and others of that ilk.

You can find out more about Jane Higgins and The Bridge at her website.

Including  (but not limited to) this trailer for The Bridge.

Books For Boys

On Monday night I attended a Road Show put on by Random House to let us know about the books that will be hot for the fall season. Some are out now and some will be in demand items at Christmas. I am generally very genre specific in my reading so I find these types of events extremely useful during the crazy busy Christmas season when customers need book recommendations.

What excited me most last night was seeing two of my favourite reads for boys being promoted. I often hear that the choice for boy books is very limited. Stop for a minute the next time you are in the teen section and just look at the shelves. I guarantee you will see many facings of books from the teen paranormal genre looking appropriately dark and dramatic. This makes it seem as though the boys have been left out. Where are the books that will appeal to them?

I could tell you that publishers make (and that book stores buy) what sells and that what sells is primarily books for girls because you start to lose male readers around the age of 9 and all kids around the age of 12. To some degree there is a lot of truth in that but what I want to concentrate on is what is out there.  Believe me, it’s there, if you know where to look.

One of the things you hear as a book seller is that boys don’t want to read books where the lead character is a girl. This is especially true in middle school however a well written story is a well written story no matter the main characters gender.

You also hear that the kids want to read about kids like them. Meaning that a lot of white parents think their kids don’t want to read books about kids who are Asian, Muslim, African or anything else. This is not completely true. We all want to read things we can identify with, sure, absolutely,  but we also learn many  life lessons through reading about different cultures, different places and people who live differently then we do, even if that means living in the country instead of the city or vice versa.

Ok I got off track there for a moment. What I was trying to say is that there are some really great reads for boys of all ages and in all genres out there if you know what to look for. A couple of authors want to help you in your search and have made websites specifically dedicated to helping find books that boys will WANT to read.

Guys Read was started by author Jon Scieska to help make reluctant boys into lifelong readers. You can search book by group  or age. You can suggest books, check out different authors or download and print bookmarks and bookplates as well.

Read Kiddo Read came about because author James Patterson had a reluctant reader of his own at home. This is an extremely well laid out website with tips for parents as well as amazing suggestions for all ages and reading levels. If you are looking for books that will interest boys in your home, check out these two incredible websites for information. Or talk to your local librarian or bookseller, by asking the right questions we can often find a great match for any reader.

As to the books I was excited to hear about last night may I present:

Both of these books are for teens 13 and up. The Kill Order by James Dashner is the prequel to The Maze Runner Trilogy, a fantastic journey through a devastated world while Call The Shots is the third book by Don Calame which tell the tales of three teen boys dealing with their struggles and triumphs in everyday life. I often equate it to the life lessons girls learn in Judy Blume books.

Some other great boy reads  are:

All of these books I’ve listed are located in the teen section of our store but some of them would be appropriate for younger readers as well.

Do you have a favourite book to recommend to boys?