“Hostage” by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith (Book View Cafe, 2015)


The second book in The Change quartet, after Stranger, does a lot of things the second book in the series should: opening the world further, adding some new and interesting characters, and raising the stakes to a whole new level that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

The sheltered town of Las Anclas is still licking its many wounds from the attack by King Voske of Gold Point. They expect another possible attack but have no idea when, but as Ross Juarez is out on a routine mission with some friends, a team has been sent out by Voske and captures him. He is brought back to Gold Point and shown a world where the changed are respected and at times revered. But this is also a harsh place run by the iron first of Voske; for those who do not follow these ways, they are crushed and ended without question. Las Anclas returns the favor by kidnapping the Voske’s daughter, Kerry, who learns of the very different world and place that is Las Anclas.

Will either side be willing to make an even exchange for the two? Not likely. So the hostage situation will have to be resolved in some other way, that will likely involve bloodshed. But each side has their own people with their own special powers that can be put to use. The final decision will ultimately rest on Kerry’s shoulders: after seeing the good and bad in both Las Anclas and Gold Point, she will have to make her choice and choose a side.

Originally written on March 25th, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Hostage from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Stranger” by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2014)

Stranger
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Welcome to the quaint little town of Las Anclas, located on the edge of nowhere. It’s a frontier town with high surrounding walls and guards constantly watching from above. Interestingly, those guards are all ages from teenagers to adults, and they all look like they know how to handle those weapons they’re carrying.

In this harsh world, places like Las Anclas are necessary refuges. You’re either a normal human or a mutant who is “Changed,” giving you special powers and abilities. There are those who will respect you for being different and others who will despise you, even inside those safe town walls, so watch your back.

Ross Juarez has just escaped death from a bounty hunger and the lethally dangerous crystalline trees and has made it to Las Anclas, seeking refuge. There he will make friends, but also enemies. He is also in possession of a special ancient book written in a language he can’t read.

Stranger is one of the few post-apocalyptic young adult books to earn its place next to Hunger Games. The diversity of the cast make this made-up world a completely believable one. The science fiction elements leave you shivering with fright, but also wanting to understand more. By the end of the book, you’ll be looking for the sequel; fortunately there is one.

Originally written on March 19, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Stranger from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Gay Characters in Young Adult Books

In a column I published in May, “Doing What’s Right,” I talked about the eventual cancellation of a young adult anthology, Wicked Pretty Things, edited by Trisha Telep.  Due to Telep wanting one of the stories “straightened,” many authors and readers began to spread the word on this, which led to the end of the anthology.

The publishing world seems to be stepping its foot in it once again, when two known authors — Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown — were trying to publish a young adult novel with gay characters and were told by an agent that it would not get published because of this.   Here is Rose Fox’s article at Publisher’s Weekly on this.

And now word is spreading through mainstream media, on blogs, and just about everywhere.  The Guardian even did an article recently on the matter.  Cleolinda on her blog, Occupation:Girl, has done a great job of covering the back and forth and linking everyone has done since the article was published.  Nicola Griffth, the bestselling author, had a great post on her blog.  Malinda Lo has also done a great job of posting important stats on this subject.  And the other N. K. Jemisin has also weighed in with her thoughts.

There is no easy answer here.  What’s impressive about it is how quickly and easily everyone can share the links and information and provide their own commentary and thoughts and opinions.  Smith and Brown had originally kept the identity of the particular agent secret, and said agent then chose not to.

While it may not have been their original intention, at the very least this had brought this important subject that needs to be addressed to the forefront of publishing and the internet.

“Coronets and Steel” by Sherwood Smith (DAW, 2010)

Coronets and Steel
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While it wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, Coronets and Steel is certainly a type of novel that many readers would like, blending the popular genre of urban fantasy with some spicy romance set in the modern world.  Kim Murray is a California girl looking for something new and fresh to bring some excitement into her life; the world she lives in is mundane and boring.  In her spare time she practices ballet and fencing, reminding herself of another time.  She lives with her parents and grandmother, who is from Europe and only speaks French, but she falls suddenly ill, and after talking with her, Kim decides to blow off her life and travel to Europe in search of her grandmother’s family and history.  She spends her days looking for details and clues without finding much, though she does notice that strange guy who seems to be following her.  Then Kim is kidnapped and is thought to be someone completely different, someone with an interesting past; she also finds herself involved with two dark and handsome men, and is looking for her grandmother’s secret husband; she also has the ability to talk to ghosts.  All these abilities, combined with her fencing make for a steamy adventure tale in Coronets and Steel.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on October 29, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Sacramento Book Review.

09/13 On the Bookshelf . . . “Coronets and Steel” & “The Golden City”

Coronets and Steel Golden City

Received these today.  Coronets and Steel has one of those covers that you just can’t take your eyes off, for cheesiness and curiosity.  Golden City is the conclusion to the trilogy from John Twelve Hawks, after Traveler and The Dark River.