Friday, December 30, 2011

Cinder (fiction)

As a plague rumbles across the Earth,
the Lunars' queen plans conquest.
Can one teenage cyborg-human make a difference?

On this Future Friday, we get a new look at an old story as Marissa Meyer takes Cinderella's tale into the celebrations commemorating the 124th anniversary of the end of World War IV (yep, more World Wars). Damaged body parts can be replaced with cybernetic-mechanical ones - although most full humans consider cyborgs to be lesser-class citizens. Across the earth, letumosis plague fells rich and poor, young and old, as scientists race to find a cure for the Blue Fever.

Those humans who colonized the Moon centuries ago are Lunars now and have developed mysterious powers. The Lunar queen wants to expand her kingdom, but needs an heir related by blood. Her relentless messages asking for an alliance with Prince Kai's realm escalate into a personal visit to New Beijing's palace. Can the Earthers resist her mind powers?

Hurry to your local indie bookstore to get the first book in The Lunar Chronicles series - Cinder will be published on January 3, 2012. In the meantime, you can listen to chapter one of the audiobook version free, and read the prequel story "Glitches" on Tor Books' website now.

We'll have to wait for the sequels, of course: Scarlet in 2013 (based on Red Riding Hood), Cress in 2014 (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs).

Book info: Cinder (Book One of The Lunar Chronicles)/ Marissa Meyer. Feiwel and Friends, 2012. [author's website] [author's blog] [publisher site] [fan-made book trailer]

Recommendation:When the prince brings his android for repair, Cinder wonders if he suspects that she’s a cyborg. She’s the best mechanic in New Beijing, but must avoid public notice so she can keep her job. Otherwise, her stepmother Adri will sell her to doctors testing plague cures on cyborg teen girls.

Up on the Moon, the Lunars under Queen Levana’s mind control never catch the fatal letumosis. The ruthless Queen continues to hammer at the Eastern Commonwealth for an alliance by marriage, even as its King suffers with the plague’s agonies. Peony also falls ill with letumosis, and Adri blames Cinder for her stepsister’s illness.

If Prince Kai chooses an Earthen bride at the Spring Festival Ball - that would stop the Queen’s plans of conquest. Every young woman in the city prepares her gown for the ball – except Cinder. Her stepmother removes her mechanical foot and turns her over to the research lab; no cyborg has ever come back out.

Queen Levana is coming to New Beijing – in person! Will she be able to control every Earther mind? Can Prince Kai find a way to keep their kingdom free? Will Cinder escape the research lab? Why can’t she remember anything before the accident that led to her body being repaired with mechanical cyborg parts?

This fascinating retelling of the Cinderella tale is the first book of the Lunar Chronicles series, with many secrets underlying the familiar story. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nowhere Girl, by A.J. Paquette (fiction) - born in Thai prison, American girl seeks home

Far, far from anyone who knows her.
Far from the crowded streets of Bangkok.
A single twisted tree visible through the prison bars.

Luchi's mother refused to contact anyone in the USA when she was transferred to Khon Meung prison in northern Thailand, so the sweet blond baby born to her there was raised by the women who shared their cell.

Imagine being 14 years old and riding in a car for the first time! Windows with glass and computers are equally new technologies for Luchi, as she travels away from the only place she's ever lived, following the wishes of her mother who died just before she could give her daughter any concrete information about their family in the States.

Beautifully written and satisfyingly original, you'll remember Luchi's difficult journey long after you finish reading Nowhere Girl. Find it today at your local library or independent bookseller.

Book info: Nowhere Girl / A. J. Paquette. Walker & Company, 2011. [author's website] [author interview] [publisher site]

Recommendation: Luchi Ann must leave the prison where she was born. As her American mother died, she told the blond teenager to “go home”, leaving scraps of information. Questions about her father always sent Mama into bleak depression – Mama, who was so glad to be relocated to this remote women’s prison in rural Thailand before Luchi’s birth, who warned her to stay safe from danger outside the prison. Oh, the inmates educated Luchi with every book they could find so she knows math and literature in three languages, but very little about the current world outside the prison walls.

So now she’s headed for Bangkok with an old list of phone numbers, a discarded letter, and her mother’s US passport. First time to ride in a car, first time to eat with strangers, first time to see buildings reaching to the sky… Trying to find answers to her mother’s past, to her own identity – this is no easy task for someone who has never before traveled wherever she wanted, never touched a computer.

Can Luchi discover the location of her mother’s home in America? How can she travel half-way around the world with no money and no passport? What is the danger outside the prison walls that her mother always warned her about?

A stirring tale of self-discovery and unexpected adventures, readers will be enthralled with Luchi’s reflections on life in Thailand as they root for her to succeed in her quest to fulfill her mother’s final wish. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.