Langdon Prep Series

Looking for a contemporary mystery series with a multicultural cast? Look no further than the Langdon Prep series by Kimberly Reid! It all starts with My Own Worst Frenemy:

Frenemy

In the tradition of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars, Reid’s new series for young adults features edgy characters with a multicultural twist, as 16-year-old Chanti Evans tries to balance prep school, boys, and solving mysteries.

With barely a foot in the door, fifteen-year-old Chanti gets on the bad side of school queen bee Lissa and snobbish Headmistress Smythe. They’ve made it their mission to take Chanti down and she needs to find out why, especially when stuff begins disappearing around campus, making her the most wanted girl in school, and not in a good way. But the last straw comes when she and her Langdon crush, the seriously hot Marco Ruiz, are set up to take the heat for a series of home burglaries–and worse. . .

(Image and summary via Goodreads.)

Application Reminder

You have until this Friday to submit your application to become a co-blogger here at Rich in Color. Crystal and I are so thankful for all of your support here and on our tumblr and twitter accounts.

Even if you can’t commit to being a blogger, we still want whatever help you can give us, whether that’s letting us know about upcoming young adult books by and/or about PoC or submitting posts to our tumblr. Do you know about giveaways, author interviews, rereads, etc.? Send us a message! We want to promote any and all books that fall into Rich in Color’s mission, and the more information we have, the better.

(And yes, authors, agents, and publishers–we definitely want to hear from you.)

Review: Vessel

VesselTitle: Vessel
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Genres: Fantasy, Heroic
Pages: 424
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/McElderry Books
Review Copy: Received as a birthday gift
Availability: September 11, 2012 (on shelves now!)

Summary: Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate — or a human girl can muster some magic of her own. –(Summary and image via the author’s site)

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed Vessel, and that was largely due to the world building and Liyana. Durst did an excellent job of creating a desert-dwelling culture, and the book was sprinkled with fun details about the tents, clothing, animals, critters, and food. (I will admit that the food wasn’t always fun, but I suppose eating snakes is a better alternative to starving.) This attention to detail—from the embroidery on Liyana’s dress to the preparations our heroes take for incoming sandstorms—grounds the world and makes it feel lived in. This is especially helpful since there’s a bunch of mystical stuff going on. In addition to Korbyn, the tribes have magicians of their own, and this world is one filled with wolves made of sand, dragons made of not-actually-glass, monstrous silkworms, and the Dreaming (afterlife/world of gods). Some of these mystical elements and their impact on the plot are more fuzzy/arbitrary than I’d like, but I could accept them.

Liyana and Korbyn, and even the Emperor to some extent, make the world even richer through the sharing of fairytale-esque stories (which, since this is a fantasy book, are not entirely made up). Many of the stories are about the desert gods, but some are about the empire’s gods or even mortals. Some of them were pure indulgence; others revealed characters, world building, or history; and yet others were used by the characters to teach or debate within the book. I loved these stories.

Durst spends a lot of time on the nature of the vessels and their sacrifice, and these moments are particularly poignant. Some vessels are fanatically devoted to their god and their tribe; others are terrified and don’t want to die. Liyana falls along “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” line—she’s not thrilled to die, but she knows that her tribe needs her goddess, Beyla, in order to survive the Great Drought. It’s particularly wrenching when Liyana says goodbye to her family or whenever she thinks about the extra time she’s been given only because her goddess has disappeared.

I have one major complaint about the book, and that would be the last moment romantic rival—and it’s not even really a rivalry as Durst avoids any competition/jealousy between the boys. Much of the book is devoted to the kind-of-sort-of-not-vocalized romance between Liyana and Korbyn. (Things are complicated—Korbyn is Beyla’s lover, but a mutual attraction between him and Liyana grows over the course of the book.) I was taken by surprise when a certain character expressed interest in Liyana, though that plotline won me over by the end due to a combination of 1) already enjoying that character and 2) the sheer practicality of it all.

Recommendation: Get it soon. Liyana, Korbyn, and the other main characters are an enjoyable and complicated ensemble, and the world they inhabit is as magical as it is dangerous. I loved the world, and the story was a solid quest with fun characters, lots of peril, a not-too-angsty romance, and occasional armies.

Latin@ Protagonists

Just a small Latin@ appreciation post this morning!

Luminous

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones—skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong.

When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela’s way home.

Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

In America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota–and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life…

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.

(Images and summaries via Goodreads)

Searching for Co-Bloggers!

Do you want to join Rich in Color in reviewing and promoting young adult fiction by and/or about people of color? Excellent! Because we want at least two other people to join us in this unpaid labor of love. You can find out more about Rich in Color’s mission over here.

Expectations
Bloggers are expected to post one book review every four weeks (roughly once a month). Please note that we prefer books that have come out within the last year. The review will need to conform to the format below and be “claimed” in advance so the other bloggers don’t have to scramble for last-minute replacements. The review will need to be properly categorized on the site and linked to the release calendar.

Additionally, bloggers are expected to post two related posts per month. These posts could be additional reviews, mini reviews of older titles, upcoming releases, link round-ups, essays/commentary, discussion questions, resource highlighting, book trailers, interviews, etc. Pretty much anything that fits in with our blog’s mission will be just fine.

Bloggers will also be responsible for adding books to the release calendar when they find them or are directed toward them by authors, publishers, and/or readers. Rich in Color also has a Tumblr and a Twitter account. If bloggers wish to help with the upkeep of those accounts, their assistance would be appreciated.

How to Apply
Respond to this post or email audrey AT richincolor DOT com by midnight Eastern time on April 5, 2013, with the following:

  1. Your name and where you’re from.
  2. Your blogging/writing experience. Don’t overthink this or be shy. If you have/run blogs, briefly mention them. If you don’t have any, then say so! The most important items are the next two anyway.
  3. A link to your sample book review. This does not have to be a review for a book that fits into this blog’s mission. You can take an old review if you have one and tweak it to fit this format, or you can write a brand new one. We’re not picky!
  4. Why you want to join us. A couple heartfelt sentences or several passionate paragraphs–either way, we want to know why you want to join us and why you would be a great asset for the site.

Crystal and I will review all applications, and the finalists will be contacted so we can get to know you/let you ask questions/give you one last chance to back out. The new bloggers will be announced to the public on or around April 12. Rich in Color will officially be in business on April 15!

Book Review Format
Please note that all of this information should be appropriately sourced.

Cover image
Title (if applicable, what # it is in the series)
Author (with link to website)
Genres
Page #s
Publisher
Source of review copy
Availability date

Summary
300+ words for review. DO NOT SUMMARIZE THE BOOK. (That’s what the summary is for.) Talk about characters, themes, culture, world-building, plot construction/holes, pacing, etc. Discuss both positive and negative aspects of the book without losing professionalism. When at all possible, avoid spoilers. If spoilers are unavoidable, warn and put them behind a cut.

Recommendation
Buy it now/get it soon/borrow it someday/just skip it scale.

Go here and here to see our example reviews.

Last Bits
If you have any questions or want something clarified before you put in the effort of applying, please ask away in the comments below! We’ll answer your questions as quickly as we can.

Review: Orleans

Orleans
Title: Orleans
Author: Sherri L. Smith
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Pages: 324
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Review Copy: Purchased
Available: March 7, 2013 (On Shelves Now!)

Summary: After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.

Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.

Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. –summary and cover image from Goodreads.

Review: “In the early days, before the sky got so angry at the sea and went to war, there was a piece of land between them, and they called her New Orleans. She was a beautiful place, a city that sparkled like diamonds, sang like songbirds, and danced a two-step to stop men’s hearts” (p 35). Through a storyteller, Sherrie L. Smith gives us a glimpse of the past beauty of New Orleans. Then, with exquisite skill, she proceeds to show us what time, floods, sickness and nature has wrought on this city. The world-building in this novel is amazing. We see “…the Garden District, where the city, had gone to seed, a cancerous jungle. Lush garden courtyards had burst like tumors, swallowing their outer buildings whole” (p 162). Debris from floods rests  high in the trees or under the mud, mold creeps up on buildings throughout the city and the forest seems to be a living breathing creature. There is more to this world than the surroundings though.

Smith also slowly reveals the new rules and ways people have learned to survive within their new world. Survival is seldom anything but gritty, messy, and dangerous and that is definitely the case here. Fen, the main character, has led a hard life and it has left its mark on her in more ways than one. She is described as the fierce one and there is no doubt she has learned to fight and protect herself and those she loves. As part of her protection, she keeps herself closed off from most people. This is one of the only drawbacks to this book. It is easy to admire Fen for her intelligence, strength and courage, but it is also very hard to get to know her personally. In spite of this, Smith manages to allow the reader just close enough to care for Fen through the use of her first person accounts. Fen’s voice is clear and almost poetic. Her dialect may be distracting initially, but most readers will likely adjust to it fairly quickly.

Early on, Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States, gets pushed into Fen’s life. The author used third person for his storyline and this seemed to help keep the focus solidly on Fen. Her story remains the main thread though there are many throughout. Smith stopped just short of having too many threads going, but they do weave together well.

There were many layers to the story including trust, racial issues, economic inequality and respect for life. After devastating floods and illness, society has adjusted, but there are still people who do not have what they need and others who have more than their fair share. In Orleans, Smith has created a frighteningly believable world where people must fight for their lives every single day.

Recommendation: Get it soon. The world-building in this novel lifts it above many others in the genre and Fen will be a character you won’t soon forget.

Extras: Blog interview with the author and giveaway
Blog Tour post on Author’s blog
Orleans: Carnivale – a short story prequel to Orleans