Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Polar Opposites edition

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine. The idea behind this meme is to highlight up and coming releases that we just can't wait to read.

Today, I'm featuring two books, from different genre spectrums, hence the title of my WoW post.

First up is When the Sea is Rising Red.

I've recently received an ARC of When the Sea is Rising Red, but thought I'd feature it as my top pick for Waiting on Wednesday this week, because not only is Cat Hellisen South African, but she lives in the same city that I do. Woohoo! Also, the book sounds absolutely phenomenal. Hoping to start it this weekend!

I'm loving the fact that SA authors are writing YA fiction and I hope that this is only the start of many more to come.

On that note, I'm also currently reading an as-yet-to-be published YA novel by Sally Partridge (another South African author) and the book is all about zombies and the dark underbelly of black magic and voodoo.

I'm really excited about it. It's fantastically written, has an interesting premise and well, is just something so very different and refreshing. I can't wait to see this book out in the wild! In the mean time, you can also check out her other YA novel, Dark Poppy's Demise.

Anyway, here's some more info about When the Sea is Rising Red. The great thing about this book is that you won't have to wait long for it. It's out next week.
When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
Publication date
: February 28th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
After seventeen-year-old Felicita’s dearest friend, Ilven, kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege.

She fakes her own death and leaves her sheltered life as one of Pelimburg’s magical elite behind.

Living in the slums, scrubbing dishes for a living, she falls for charismatic Dash while also becoming fascinated with vampire Jannik.

Then something shocking washes up on the beach: Ilven's death has called out of the sea a dangerous, wild magic.

Felicita must decide whether her loyalties lie with the family she abandoned . . . or with those who would twist this dark power to destroy Pelimburg's caste system, and the whole city along with it.

This one's been getting some rave reviews. Make sure you add it to your books-to-read list.

The second book on my WoW list, is a book called Tell the Wolves I'm Home. I first heard about this book at one of Pan Macmillan South Africa's book presentations. My first thought was that this book has one of the most beautiful titles I've ever come across.

Then of course, I read the synopsis. And fell in love. There's just something that is incredibly different about this book, and so far, from what I've heard, this book, which deals with love, loss and grief, is absolutely phenomenal.

Here's some more info about it.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Publication date: June 2012 by PanMacmillan
In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss.

Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend.

So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down.

But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet.

As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

And, that's it from me for this week. What's on your WoW list? Feel free to share your links below.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book review: Wither

When modern science fails human kind, it results in young girls being forced to breed to keep the population alive in this beautifully rendered, vividly disturbing dystopian fiction novel.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Harper Voyager)
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where all continents besides North America have seemingly been destroyed, Wither tells the story of 16-year old Rhine Ellery, who along with 3 other girls, is kidnapped and sold as a child bride to the wealthy Linden Ashby.

Time is short, and thanks to modern science, the lifespan of both men and women have been drastically cut short.

In a world where men live to the age of 25 and women only to the age of 20, these girls, kidnapped by the Gatherers (a group of people who hunt girls down solely for this purpose) are one of the many who are forced to procreate in a desperate bid to save the dying human race.

Even though Rhine is treated kindly by her new husband and is surrounded by the beauty of his and his father's wealthy estate, Rhine can't help but feel like she's trapped in a gilded cage.

Desperate to escape the house - and Linden's malicious father, Rhine employs the help of Gabriel, a servant she quickly becomes attracted to.

With the years counting against her, and a suspicious housemaster on a trail, Rhine knows that she needs to make an attempt to break free the first moment she gets.


Let me start off by saying that Wither is probably an acquired read. You're either going to love it or hate it.

With dystopian fiction, many people assume that because it's set in a post-apocalyptic world, that the actually story should be fast-paced filled with lots of breakneck action, speed and adrenalin.

My thoughts are that dystopia isn't necessarily rooted in the abovementioned factors, nor should it be. 

Wither by Lauren DeStefano takes the concept of post-apocalyptic fiction, turns it on its head and focuses primarily on her beautiful storytelling skills to create an atmosphere of impending doom.

The first book in a trilogy, Lauren tackles subjects such as polygamy, the kidnapping and trafficking of children (used solely for the purpose to become brides and to breed), blending it with science in a deft and unflinching manner; creating a sinister world where young girls like Rhine are subjected to the mercy of a system that completely disregards their rights.

Beautifully written, the atmosphere that pervades throughout the novel, is one of a cruel and menacing beauty; the holograms, wealthy estate and beautiful fashion, starkly juxtaposed to the grim reasons they are there.

It's a slow-building piece of dystopian fiction, with nuances and undertones of darkness, melancholy and desperation. And yet, for all this, the author has created a strongly refreshing and defiant character in 16-year old Rhine.

A caged bird she may be, but she's wise and smart enough to know how to bide her time in order to buy her escape.

The supporting characters, sister wives Jenna and Cecily, are equally unique characters whose voices come into their own and whose stories (Jenna's mostly) are certainly as riveting as Rhine's.

What adds to an already fascinating read is Linden Ashby's character. Is he really the villain in the story or is he just another victim and pawn in a larger game? It's these questions and so much more that insidiously work its way into your system while you're reading.

The phrase, "everything-is-not-as-it-seems" is a sentiment that is echoed more than once throughout the novel. 

I could go one and delve into the rest of the characters, in particular Linden's father (totally gave me the creeps), and Gabriel (who offered some much-need distraction for Rhine), but then I'd be telling you the whole story.

The one aspect of the novel I was disappointed in though, is that the backdrop to the genetic virus hasn't fully been fleshed out and there's no real explanation for the war that caused resulted in the destruction, but because this is a trilogy, I'm going to assume that these aspects will be covered in the next two books.

In an age-old battle of pro-science vs pro-naturalisation, Lauren DeStano's Wither is a book that certainly makes one think about one's own mortality. It's exquisitely written and a finely crafted tale that deserves all the accolades it's been reserving so far.

I highly recommend it.