Monday, February 24, 2020

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)
By Neal Shusterman
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: In a future where disease has been eradicated, the only way to die is to be gleaned by a scythe—those officially charged with delivering death. Scythes are supposed to respect the gravity of their role in society and adhere to a set of rules, but as newly selected apprentices Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch quickly learn, not all scythes are honorable. As division grows within the Scythedom, Citra and Rowan find themselves caught up in some deadly politics that test them as much as, if not more than, their training.

Review: I’d wanted to read Scythe ever since I spotted the epic cover, but as usual, it took me forever to get to it. And once again, I was late to the “This book is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G” party.

I’m not sure what I expected from a book that features what are essentially grim reapers—maybe a tone that was mostly gloom and doom and, you know, grim? But Scythe is so, so many layers deeper than that. Yes, death is a major component here, but we also have an extremely thought-provoking dystopian novel sprinkled with wit.

I absolutely loved Neal Shusterman’s world-building. On the surface, the world of Scythe looks like a utopia. There is no disease. In the event of injury, the body’s nanites dull pain until healing is complete. Hunger and war do not exist anymore. The Thunderhead, an evolved, sentient version of the cloud, watches over humanity and administers to its needs. The watching part sounds rather Big Brother-esque, and as Facebook, Google, etc. track everything we do more and more, the idea of technology ruling over all of us doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

And then there’s the Scythedom. Since humans no longer die from disease or injury, scythes are charged with controlling population growth by taking lives, or gleaning. Scythes are supposed to approach their duty with reverence and have ten commandments to follow. As the book unfolds, however, we learn that some scythes interpret those commandments more loosely than others, to the point where they’re almost flouting scythe laws. There’s a growing division between the old guard scythes, who keenly feel the weight of their role in society, and the new order scythes, who think the rules are antiquated and restrictive. A lot of political maneuvering goes on in the Scythedom, and it is this tense climate that main characters Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch find themselves thrown into.

Citra and Rowan are both chosen to be the apprentices of Scythe Faraday, and at first the outcome is simple: only one of them can earn a scythe’s ring. The other will resume his or her life once the selection is made. A cruel twist, however, raises the stakes and puts Citra and Rowan on paths they never envisioned. This book was full of surprises, and I loved how it kept me guessing. I also loved the ending—sometimes I get frustrated when the first book in a series leaves you with nothing but a scream-inducing cliffhanger. Scythe nails the ending, though.

This is a fantastic series opener with a gripping story, deft world-building, and stellar writing. I am officially a Neal Shusterman fan now and can’t wait to see what else he has in store for this series.

All in All: A 5-star read from beginning to end. Just brilliant storytelling.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Book Loot (40)

Straight from the Department of Better Late Than Never, here's my first post of 2020: my (mostly) Book Outlet haul from . . . Black Friday 2019. Yikes!

In my defense, the end of 2019 was bonkers. On top of the holiday rush, I got a whopper of a cold just in time for Christmas. Said cold didn't care when the new year dawned and continued to linger. I finally gave in and got it checked out because the nagging cough was keeping me up at night. The best guess was allergic bronchitis, and off I went with prescriptions for a disgusting tasting liquid and an inhaler. Those finally did the trick, and I'm happy to report that I can now get through a complete sentence without needing to stop to hack until my eyes water.

Getting back on topic to books, I'd first heard about Book Outlet on Facebook, where I also saw that subscribers to their emails would receive early access to their Black Friday sale. This seemed like the perfect time to give the site a try, and ahhhhhhhh . . . . It was a real challenge not to put EVERYTHING in my cart! Once common sense was restored, I narrowed down my selections to 8, lol. (I got both The Epic Crush of Genie Lo and Sky Without Stars from Amazon.)

Bought:

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
American Panda by Gloria Chao
Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell
Eon by Alison Goodman
Eona by Alison Goodman
Clariel by Garth Nix
Goldenhand by Garth Nix
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Have you read any of these? If so, I'd love to know what you thought! I hope your 2020 is off to an amazing start!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

2020 Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge

Another year—and another decade—is almost in the books, so to speak, which means it's time to start thinking about reading goals for 2020! My never-ending TBR is loaded with backlist titles, which is why I'm joining Novel Knight's Beat the Backlist challenge again.

It's a bit sad to admit this, but several of the books I'd hoped to read for this year's challenge are making return appearances on my list of planned reads for next year's challenge because I'm just not going to get to them in 2019. Oh well, lol. So here's what I'd really love to read in 2020:




I'm also joining the team mini challenge. I am ALWAYS adding books to my TBR even though it's already impossibly long, so it's The TBR Stackers team for me, lol!

Are you joining any reading challenges for 2020?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Book Loot (39)

Hello, friends! We're getting closer and closer to the end of 2019, and, the end of another decade—EEK!

For my part, it looks like I'm trying to amass as many new books as possible before 2019 ends, lol. Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle is one of my favorite series ever, so of course I HAD to get a copy of the first book in the spin-off Dreamer trilogy.

Neal Shusterman's Scythe is one of my favorite 2019 reads. I've already started Thunderhead, and I'm loving it just as much as Scythe so far!

What books have you added to your shelves recently?

Won:

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press and Flatiron Books!!

Bought:

The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand
Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Adventures at YALLFest 2019

2019 YALLFest Program

November has become one of my favorite months because it means it's time to go to YALLFest again! This was the fifth trip for Ally, Melissa, and me to Charleston for the two day young adult book festival, and it was just as much fun as the first year we attended.

After the requisite stop for coffee before hitting the road, we were on our way by around 3:45AM. It's about a 6 hour drive from Central Florida to Charleston, and for us, a big part of the adventure is the road trip itself. Will we have enough room in the car for our book hauls? What item did Lee forget to pack this year? Who will get hangry first? (It's usually me, Lee, but this year it wasn't me haha!)

Friday is YALLCrawl, which features some author signings and events. Jenny Han was signing as part of YALLCrawl again, so I got my copies of P.S. I Still Love You and Always and Forever, Lara Jean signed:

While I was at the signing, Ally and Melissa headed off to check out the official YALLFest merch. We learned the hard lesson in our first year at the festival that we must buy our T-shirts and any other YALLFest goodies on Friday or they will be sold out by Saturday.

Since some of us had been awake since 2:30 in the morning, we opted for an early dinner again and then took our exhausted selves to the hotel to get a good night's sleep in preparation for a very, very busy Saturday.

We usually grab bagels for breakfast, but this time we tried a charming café called La Pâtisserie that we'd passed while browsing King Street on Friday. I had a ham and cheese croissant, and it was amazing! The delicious coffee also hit the spot on a chilly morning.

After breakfast, we headed towards the Charleston Museum, where the line to pick up tickets for the Fierce Reads ARC giveaways already wrapped around the corner. We happily each received our tickets to return later for the ARCs and then got down to the business of running from line to line.

I've collected Shadowhunter posters from the Riveted/Simon Teen booth for the last 3 years, so I was thrilled to add another, this time of Matthew Fairchild from the upcoming Chain of Gold:

Here's one of the better pics of us, lol, taken at the Pique booth during their ARC giveaway of Jordan Ifueko's Raybearer:


L to R: Lee, Melissa, Ally

Nic Stone was signing ARCs of her upcoming Shuri at the I Read YA/Scholastic booth, and she noticed the Marvel sweatshirt I was wearing and said it was perfect!

Around 4PM, we realized that we were starving and practically sprinted to Five Guys to grab dinner. Back at the hotel, we collapsed for a bit and then organized our goodies to make departing in the morning a bit easier.

Once again, the weekend flew by in a blur of books. I can't wait to start reading these!


Blood Countess by Lana Popvić
Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers
The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly by Meredith Tate
The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne
The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Most Likely by Sarah Watson
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian
Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell
The Small Crimes of Tiffany Templeton by Richard Fifield
Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone
You're Next by Kylie Schachte
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