Sparked by Sheena Snow

Product DetailsSoul Mate Publishing, 2015

The government’s been building robots in a secret program, and they look exactly like humans. They’d been building them for years before anyone outside the government found out. When the secret program was discovered, the leaders won public opinion over by offering robots up for sale to the public — who wouldn’t want a robot to do the cleaning and the gardening? But Vienna doesn’t trust them, not one bit. So when her mom brings a robot into the house to be their cook Vienna is horrified. But she soon learns there’s a lot more to robots than she imagined. That’s lucky for Vienna, because before too long one gorgeous specimen of a robot is the only thing that’s keeping her safe from the government that invented him.

I was intrigued by the premise of this story: humans and robots in society, a human-robot love story to boot. Sheena Snow has written an intriguing tale. Though Vienna is a teenager, this story reads more like an adult romance/adventure than a young adult novel. That’s not really a criticism; I simply found it surprising in a book that’s being marketed as YA. It’s an adventure and a love story, but it seems particularly unmarked by adolescent angst. It’s fairly violent but not sexually explicit.

I was drawn in and read this fast-paced book quickly. A couple of unanswered details niggled at me as I read, but I can be an  impatient reader and it may be that the author is saving the reveal for future books. Sparked is billed as the first book in the Metal Bones Series.

I read this book courtesy of the author and Kate Tilton in exchange for an honest review.




This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2013.

Once, at the start of her junior year of high school, Elise Dembrowski attempted suicide, The thing about committing suicide is you’ve got to have the right playlist, that is, you do if you’re Elise Dembrowski. Elise’s attempt doesn’t succeed–she didn’t mean for it to–but it does start her on a new path.

When Elise returns to school, she gives up once and for all on school social life and launches herself more firmly into her music and the midnight walks that calm her. When one night she comes across an all night dance party, Elise finally finds a life in which she can be a star rather than a misfit, but she’ll have to sneak around and deceive her parents to keep up her new lifestyle. Will Elise manage to make her new dreams come true?

I loved this book about a high school misfit who finds her passion and ends up to be the coolest kid around. I think the story will resonate with many teens who are trying to navigate the waters of high school social pressures and life as a young adult. This one would make a great addition to personal, classroom, and library collections.

Purchased, Kindle format

DNA Detective by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Lil Crump

Annick Press, 2015.

A middle-grade nonfiction book, DNA Detective tells the fascinating story of how scientists unraveled the mystery of DNA over the years. The text moves chronologically and from scientist to scientist as they advance the theories of how humans, animals, plants, and cells are created. The story is presented in a way that is both clear and interesting.

With such a complex scientific topic, I expected to find this book either hard going or far too simplistic for middle graders, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Tanya Lloyd Kyi laid out the stories and the science in a very engaging and understandable manner. I think kids interested in science would be very interested to read this book.

My largest problem with the book was that once introduced, the scientists were called only by first names. I don’t blame the author or publisher for this–I think it is the current convention for children’s books–but this middle-aged reader had trouble keeping track of Charles and Gregor and would have had an easier time with Darwin and Mendel.

This book would make a great addition to classroom, school, and public libraries and a great gift for inquisitive kids.

I read DNA Detective as a digital advance reader copy courtesy of  Annick Press and NetGalley.

Nirvana by J. R. Stewart

Blue Moon Publishers, 2015

It feels like a long time since she was a rock star in a college girl band. When the world changed Kenders had to choose. She could stay on her own in a world that was rapidly falling apart or marry Andrew and go with him to the Barracks, to relative safety and the continuation of Andrew’s scientific work. But nothing is simple in the Barracks. To stay, Kenders has had to sign on to a security job under the Corporal, and six months ago he gave her the word that Andrew was dead.

Kenders won’t believe it, she can’t, especially since she keeps encountering Andrew during her visits to Nirvana, the virtual reality world that everyone in the Barracks is allowed to access. Now the executives who run the Barracks are pressuring Kenders to sign and acknowledgement of Andrew’s death, and Kenders is in a secret race to find out if he’s alive or if the Andrew who visits her in Nirvana is as virtual as the environment around her.

This is the first book in a dystopian trilogy.

I read Nirvana as an electronic Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Blue Moon Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.