Published: October 2, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 10-17, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.
The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.
Between reading Hanna Jameson’s The Last and now Dry and watching ‘Walking Dead’ type shows/movies I now want to stock up on everything and be ready for the end of civilization! Especially water: You cannot live without water after a few days. Dry has totally freaked me out and I want to be prepared! Everything about Dry felt real to me. It takes place in southern California (OMG, this happened in the USA!) and the water has run completely out. The desperation of everyone is captured brilliantly and we see how people become in impossible situations.
Our protagonists are young adults, so they will come with immaturity, but I was completely drawn into the story! You don’t know what is going to happen and who will die or live. For a while I thought we were going to have a ‘Mist movie type ending’ and OMG, that would be jaw dropping as it is so realistic and not a happy ending.
Shusterman does such a wonderful job making you think about things long after you have finished his books. He continues this with Dry. Dry has you thinking about what you will do and who will you become when the Tap-Out eventually happens.
Author: Joanne Ramos
Published: May 7, 2019
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 23- May 5, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you’ve ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.
Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery—or worse.
Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.
The thriller lover in me wanted a novel where Golden Oaks, aka ‘The Farm’ was ‘the big bad evil’ with ulterior motive and missing surrogates, etc. The Farm is Joanne Ramos’ debut novel and instead of thriller we get a novel about class and privilege and extreme differences. The differences in race, immigration status, lack of freedom, morality and greed, and many more topics are also explored.
‘The Farm’ seems like a resort for surrogates, and in some ways it is. The surrogates are given most everything they could need, but not want. They are subject to rules and regulations but they are also paid significantly as the pregnancy progresses. There are both positive and negative consequences to ‘The Farm’. In reality, the women are numbered like cattle carrying commodities, and it is all about the health of the fetus and the end result of a healthy baby delivered for ‘the client’. Most of the ‘hosts’ are immigrants who need a job and see a high payout with working at ‘The Farm’ and most of the clients are white. The ‘clients’ of Golden Oaks are not necessarily people who cannot have children: They are the rich who may not want to ruin their ‘perfect bodies’ with pregnancy or don’t want to deal with the time involved with doctor’s appointments and possible complications.
We get four points of view in The Farm:
Jane- an immigrant and our main protagonist
Reagan- another Host/Surrogate
Mae- Golden Oaks’ Director of Operations
Ate- Jane’s cousin
Each character makes decisions based on what works best for them and their given situation. I liked Jane and was on her side the whole novel. When she made bad decisions I just wanted to knock some sense into her! I felt for her when she missed her baby girl that she left with her cousin to ‘work’ at ‘The Farm’ for 9 months. Nine months can be a short amount of time to earn a huge payout, but at what cost? Jane begins to realize this as time passes and she misses her daughter’s milestones.
This is yet another novel that will leave you thinking. How far away is our society from having real life ‘farms’ for the wealthy that are made up of ‘hosts’ who are the poor and want or need that paycheck?
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for my copy.[Top]
Wildcard (Warcross series #2)
Author: Marie Lu
Published: September 18, 2018
Today Kim and I bring you a double review of Wildcard, the second in the Warcross duology.We both read the first in the series earlier this year and loved it! And I am NOT a gamer: This story is so much more than gaming! We both highly anticipated Wildcard, and were so happy when it was released in September.
Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.
Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.
Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
I’m so excited to finally read this book!!! Jessica and I have been waiting for this sequel for months! Warcross blew my mind and Wildcard followed very closely! I’ll admit that I wish I had re-read Warcross before reading Wildcard, but Lu added a lot of extra detail, in order to remind us of what happened in Warcross. It did start out a little slow while I was trying to get back into the story and remember all the details. But once I caught back up, stuff began happenin’! Lu managed to create a world-wide conspiracy surrounding Hideo without losing the personal scope.
Then in Wildcard, she shrinks the conspiracy without giving up the consequences to humanity. She has easily become a favorite author and her storytelling ability is unquestioned. Emika was just as relatable and likable. Where in Warcross, she was a badass in the virtual world, in Wildcard, she became a badass in real life! While there is all the awesomeness of the world of Warcross, there is more stuff happening in the real world. I’m still questioning the practicality of the gaming system and how it’s controlled by the individual players. If my unpractical brain was going over it, then I’m sure there were many more practical people who were going nuts over it.
But I officially want to be a Warcross player, and Wildcard has confirmed that. This is a great duology for teens; it combines gaming and adventure and action and conspiracies and great characters. I think this is the perfect series to help get kids into reading. I would absolutely recommend this book and this whole series to pretty much everybody, especially those who don’t like reading.
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Dates Read: October 29-November 9, 2018
You do not have to be a gamer to enjoy Warcross and now Wildcard: I am not a gamer and I highly enjoyed this duology by Marie Lu. There is so much more to this story than the game! If these books were all about the game, I would not have read them. It’s the real life situations that happen and what might happen that kept me reading. Wildcard picks up shortly after Warcross ended and Emika’s story continues. There is now an extremely high bounty on her head and the only way she can survive is…Zero!?!? Who exactly is Zero and can she trust him? And what about her feelings for Hideo despite what he has done?
And the twist: It is hard to be more than vague in this review without giving spoilers. This is a complete story that Lu wrote well and had all wrapped up with a bow by the end. I really enjoyed this series and I have to say: I LOVE these covers, they are gorgeous!
This series is recommended!
I’m so excited to share a picture of my signed copy of Wildcard! My friend Suleika attended an author signing in Hawaii and got this for me: