A Deep Look Inside Oneself - Tattoo Atlas (Review)

After having read Willful Machines, I hadn't quite switched my brain to prepare for how dark, gritty, and deep Tattoo Atlas would be. Boy, it is thought-provoking. Tim Floreen has done it again.

“I just don’t think I believe evil is some disease you can treat, like malaria.”

There are quite a cast of characters in Tattoo Atlas, from Rem, the main protagonist who witnessed his best friend murdered by a classmate, Franklin, said classmate who is now up for the cure for evil, Callie, Lydia, and Tor, Rem's other close friends, and Rem's mom, the scientist behind the implant that cures evil. 

I supposed it was like we’d been saying last night: people changed all the time, for all sorts of reasons. But if people changed all the time, what was it we fell in love with when we fell in love with someone? An idea? An illusion? There had to be something there that didn’t change, right?

In the same vein of Willful Machines, Tattoo Atlas explores nature versus nurture and the concept of "evil" (murder) being something you can turn off with a switch (ish). Rem explores his own feelings - even if Franklin can be turned off, can he look at him the same way? It's the chicken and the egg conversation; are you a cured person first or always a monster?

Tattoo Atlas doesn't shy away from the violent culture we live in. Along the way, Rem's friends continue to be murdered and you're left wondering if the implant is working (or even can work), is there a copycat killer, or is there something more to be explored? There's a lot of conversation about what it means to be nice versus what it means to be good.

PS: If you're in the Bay Area, don't miss Tim at Hicklebee's this Friday (1/20). I'll be there to moderate him and Kristen Elizabeth Clark! 


Tattoo Atlas
by Tim Floreen
Published: October 18th 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Purchased

A year ago, Rem Braithwaite watched his classmate Franklin Kettle commit a horrific crime.

Now, apart from the nightmares, life has gone back to normal for Rem. Franklin was caught, convicted, and put away in juvenile detention for what he did. The ordeal seems to be over.

Until Rem’s mother selects Franklin as a test subject for an experimental brain procedure intended to “cure” him of his cruel and violent impulses. Suddenly Rem’s memories of that day start coming back to the surface. His nightmares become worse than ever. Plus he has serious doubts about whether his mother’s procedure will even work. Can evil really just be turned off?

Then, as part of Franklin’s follow-up testing, he and Rem are brought face to face, and Rem discovers…Franklin does seem different. Despite everything, Rem finds himself becoming friends with Franklin. Maybe even something more than friends.

But when another of their classmates turns up dead, Rem’s world turns upside-down yet again. Franklin insists that he’s innocent, that he’s cured, but Rem doesn’t know what to believe. Is someone else responsible for this new murder, or is Franklin fated to stay a monster forever? And can Rem find out the answer to this question before the killer, whoever it is, comes after him too?

Interview with Nicole Luiken, Author of In Truth and Ashes (+GIVEAWAY)

Hi everyone! We are here today to celebrate the release of In Truth & Ashes with Nicole Luiken, author of The Otherselves series. With the series coming to a close, we had some final questions to help close out the series. Check it out and check out In Truth & Ashes, out now!

Describe the following in ten words or less for In Truth and Ashes.
  • Where the last book left off. Sorceress Qeturah dead; Air & Stone Worlds saved.
  • The overall story arc. Belinda saves the world with the help of her otherself.
  • The characters. Belinda (heroine), Demian (demigod), Leah (heroine), Gideon (phoenix), Malachi (villain)

The worlds you build in each of the books rely on previously built worlds. How do you keep track of the various aspects of the worlds through each of the books?

I use a program called Scrivener to keep track of my notes. I have files for each character, files for each plot arc, world-building files, outlines, research notes, etc. That way all my little scraps of paper are filed in a way that makes it easy to look up a detail I’ve forgotten. (Scrivener also has a word processor, but I don’t use it.) I also keep paperbacks of the earlier books handy so I can quickly look up a detail that’s escaped my memory.

Each book in the series has different main characters. Do you have a favorite? 

Oooh, toughie. Probably either Gideon, who’s a complete sweetheart,or The Phantom (PIers) from book two--he was a bit of a rogue and fun to write.

What do you hope for the characters now that their stories are over?

I see Ryan from Through Fire & Sea having a successful acting career and dating Holly, who’s now in college. I see Audrey engaged to marry Piers and going off on secret adventures, perhaps to help liberate the far-off Kingdom of Oriac. I see Dorotea and Jasper, and Leah and Gideon helping to rebuild their shattered worlds. I see Belinda and Demian happily Bonded with Belinda going to college while Demian continues to create art.

Now that you've finished the stories of True and Mirror worlds, what's up next for you?

I have two other young adult projects on the go. I just completed the first draft of Doppelganger, which is the first book in a new fantasy series about a shapeshifter. The tagline is “First I took the place of her bodyguard, next I’ll replace the princess.” The other book, Feral, is a paranormal about a werewolf girl Chloe who’s worried that she’s a Dud (i.e. a werewolf who can’t change to her wolf form). I wrote the first draft of it two years ago and I’m itching to dive into revisions.

by Nicole Luiken
Published: January 2nd 2017
Publisher: EntangledTeen
Buy It on Amazon

What she can’t remember could ruin her life.

The Mirror Worlds are but dull reflections of the True World, where magic and technology blend together…

On the True World, Belinda Loring has known from childhood that she must Bond with the son of another noble First Family. Uniting the families ensures hers will hold onto its powerful position, and so she’s always pushed down the tender feelings she has for her best friend—gorgeous, steadfast Demian, who isn’t noble. 

But when the ceremonial magic goes disastrously wrong, Belinda becomes a national disgrace. Scorned as Broken, she turns to Demian for help getting revenge on the man who ruined her: the radical Malachi.

But the seeds of Malachi’s murderous plans lie buried in Belinda’s past, in the dark days of her kidnapping—a period of which she has no memory. And Demian may hold the key to recovering all that she’s lost—and saving the worlds.


Check Out the Rest of the Tour

January 2nd
For Love of Books4 – Spotlight Post
YA Book Madness – Review Book #3
January 3rd
RoloPoloBookBlog – Spotlight Post
January 4th
Queekie Girl Reads – Guest Post
January 5th
YaReads – Author Interview
Sizzling Hot Books – Review Book #1
January 6th
The Book Beacon – Review Book #3
Pearls Cast Before A McPig – Spotlight Post
January 7thJust One More Chapter – Spotlight Post
January 8th
Roxy’s Book Reviews – Spotlight Post
January 9th
Mythical Books – Author Interview
January 10th
Captivated Reading – Guest Post
January 11th
Crossroad Reviews – Spotlight Post
Splashes Into Books – Review Book #3
January 12th
YA Book Divas – Guest Post
January 13th
Sleeps on Tables – Spotlight Post
Home of Writing – Review Book #2
January 14th
Verbosity Reviews – Review Book #1
January 15th
Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Interview <-- That's us!

Ready for ReMade Season 2!

Oh boy. Have you all been along for the ReMade ride with us? Season 1 barely ended and we are CHOMPING AT THE BIT for season 2. Lucky for us, resident ReMade author Gwenda Bond is here with a little two truths and a lie to get us pumped for season 2. Check out her video below and be sure to catch the season recap video, too!

(Personally, I can't even handle the thought of the second being the truth, even though I was SURE that was how season 1 was going to end!)

A bonus: Season Two's writing team!

Author Amy Rose Capetta is joining the Writers Room, which will be filled out by Matthew Cody, Gwenda Bond, E. C. Myers, and Andrea Phillips.

ICYMI: Christy Talks ReMade

What is ReMade?

In one moment the lives of twenty-three teenagers are forever changed, and it’s not just because they all happen to die. Remade in a world they barely recognize – one with robots, space elevators, and unchecked jungle – they must work together to solve the mystery and stay alive. They came from different places, backgrounds, and families, and now they are our only hope. Lost meets The Maze Runner in this thrilling serial that combines contemporary YA with classic Science Fiction to fling you headfirst into adventure.

Episodes 1 & 2 are available FREE on the Serial Box website

Lies & Alibis: Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

After seeing Jennie's review, I couldn't resist picking this one up. Conviction is one of the more unique realistic fictions I've read in a long time and I highly recommend it. 

Conviction is a story of testing fate, testing families, and testing the teenage experience. Braden is in the impossible situation of being the sole witness to a murder his father is accused of committing. In a small community like the Central Valley, word travels fast and people pick sides. The environment becomes difficult, especially when you're a teenager trying to make it through life with your main support source in jail. Braden is put into an impossible situation, with his faith rocked. 

This story spoke to me for a lot of reasons. First off, I grew up in the community the story takes place in. I then came back to work with children of incarcerated parents and those re-entering after serving time in jail or prison. The community is plagued by poverty and criminal justice intervention, and the support is minimal. So Braden's story, and that of his family's, is dear to me in a way that speaks to my professional passions. 

If you're looking for a story with heart, you've found it. The narration is great, too!


by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Published: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Overdrive (love my library!)

Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch already has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

Another Test of the Human Experience - Willful Machines (Review)

So, where do I start with this review? I LOVED Willful Machines. Everything about this book is phenomenal, from the writing to the characters to the story that was perfectly paced and ready for you to highlight and tab. It's SO quotable.

Usually when I saw a grin that big on people, it made me want to shake them and ask them what there was to be so damn happy about. But not with Nico. His grin just made my knees feel squishy.

This book makes me knees feel squishy. ANYWAYS. Willful Machines stars Lee Fisher, a shy boy who is trapped in the closet thanks to antiquated thoughts held by his father who is also the President, and Nico, the new kid in town who is smoking hot, slightly mysterious, and determined to get to know Lee better. They're joined by a cast of supporting characters that include the President, Lee's (dead) scientist mother, Bex (Lee's BFF), and Lee's grandfather, who runs the school Lee and Nico go to. Oh, and Charlotte, the zombie AI who may or may not be causing havoc around the world.

But aren’t our choices determined by our programming too? Our genes and our environment and all that? Aren’t we basically just robots ourselves?

Set in an undetermined (but futuristic) timeline, the world of Willful Machines is most terrifying because of how realistic it is. This is the dystopia that could happen in our lifetimes. The people fear robots, who have become so human-like that they demand rights or they will fight back. It's a civil war that no one is going to win. The humans have practically become archaic in their thinking to "protect" themselves; again, no one is winning. It's practically nonsensical, which is too close to the world we live in now.

“The real question isn’t whether 2Bs are alive,” she said. “It’s whether humans are anything more than machines. But I have a feeling you knew that already.”

Willful Machines, much like Boy Robot and The Diabolic, explores what it means to be human. It explores free will in a way that will have you questioning yourself like no other book has. The arguments posed on either side will have you deep in thought.

Within the story, there's a significant romance subplot between Lee and Nico. If you're not cheering for them, then you might have a heart of ice. Their romance is so dang cute. There's also a lot of action/thriller, especially in the back half of the story. There's something for everyone here, packaged in writing that keeps you entertained the whole way through.

Willful Machines is a book I let sit on my TBR for far too long. Don't make the same mistake! 


by Tim Floreen
Published: October 20th 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Quarterly Box (right? Annotated, too!)

In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.

Charlotte's attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.

But when the attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he's Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.

As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive ... and what makes life worth living.

Secrets and Spies - You Don't Know My Name (Review)

When Swoon Reads said they were publishing books outside the swoon arena, I had no idea they would take the full leap into the thriller arena! You Don't Know My Name is the first in the Black Angels Chronicles, so titled because the secret government agency she works for is so named.

Reagan is born into the Black Angels, which is basically the only way to get into the club. As you can imagine, this causes some conflict as she's not sure this is the life she wants. Talk about pressure! Then there's this whole danger aspect about being an unsanctioned secret spy. It's kind of a lot to deal with as a teen; Reagan's panic and trauma is explored, which is refreshing. There's an illusion of a romance, which I hope is developed in the next book. I need this ship to sail!

The writing is strong, though the pacing for the first 40% of the book is slower than I would have liked. I prefer to be dropped into the middle of the action. From the mid point through the end, it's action packed and the ending will leave you gasping and clutching your chest, screaming NEXT BOOK PLEASE!


You Don't Know My Name
by Kristen Orlando
Published: January 10th 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: Publisher

Fighter, Faker, Student, Spy.

Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan.

Now Reagan has to decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she's always wanted? And does she even have a choice at all?

Find out if you are ready to join the Black Angels in the captivating and emotional page-turner, You Don't Know My Name, from debut novelist Kristen Orlando!

YANOVCON 2017 Author Spotlight: JESSICA BRODY

Today, we're thrilled to be introduce you to author Jessica Brody, who will be attending YANOVCON 2017. We have been fans of Jessica's novels and are so thrilled to have her back in the SF Bay Area.

Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.
After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.
Since then, Jessica has sold over twelve novels for teens, tweens, and adults including 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, The Karma ClubMy Life Undecided, and the three books in the Unremembered trilogy, the first of which is currently in development as a major motion picture by the producers of The Vampire Academy, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Slumdog Millionaire. In 2016, she will release two new contemporary novels, A Week of Mondays (August) and Boys of Summer (April), and in 2017, her debut middle grade novel entitled, Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Upwill hit bookstore shelves.
Jessica also writes books for the Descendants: “School of Secrets” series, based on the hit Disney Channel Original movie, Descendants!

Have you RSVP'd to attend YANovCon 2017 yet? If not then you should. We hope to see you there on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from 1-5 pm at the Millbrae Library