Monday, January 30, 2012

Novel Teen Blog Tour: Book Review of "Replication: The Jason Experiment" by Jill Williamson

Replication: The Jason Experiment

Abby Goyer's life has been turned upside down. Her mom died a year ago, her dad is consumed with work and his grief, and her dad's new job has transferred them from Washington D.C. to Alaska. Talk about a change of scenery. But with the change in scenery comes new secrets. Dr. Goyer's job at a place called "Jason Farms" is top secret, and when Abby discovers a young man in her room named Martyr who claims he's a clone from the Jason Farms, well, things start to get alot more interesting.

All his life, Martyr had been told by doctors that he and the other clones of the Jason Farms had one purpose to fulfill: to expire on their eighteenth birthday in order to save the people on the outside from the toxic air. But when Martyr sneaks outside to fulfill his wish of seeing the stars at least once before he dies, he discovers his life at the Jason Farms has been a lie, and his purpose may be something far different than he could have imagined.

One thing I can always count on when I read a story by Jill Williamson (Christy award-winning author of the Blood of Kings trilogy) is that I'm going to fall in love with the characters. Replication is no different. Abby is a feisty yet vulnerable heroine with very human emotions and reactions to the people and circumstances around her. But it was Martyr that I wanted to wrap up and bring home with me. He was so sweet! His child-like innocence made me smile constantly, and his strength and leadership qualities reveal the man he is rapidly becoming.

Parts of the story were hard to read because of circumstances that happen mentally and physically to some of the characters. I winced more than once. But these things show how dire the situations are and how high the stakes. The heart-pumping, fast-moving plot combined with the loveable characters make Replication a fun and thought-provoking read. I want a sequel just so I can visit with Martyr and Abby some more!

Read a character interview with Abby here.

Read a character interview with Martyr here.

Genre: Youth/Science Fiction/Christian
Ages: 14 and up
Pages: 286
Publication Date: December 2011

* I want to thank the publisher and author for sending me an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book for an honest review.

Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about Replication: The Jason Experiment by Jill Williamson by clicking on the links below, and check out the Team Novel Teen page for more information about Team Novel Teen.

ADD Librarian -- The Book Fae -- Books I Recommend -- Book Nook 4 You -- Bookworm Reading -- Christian Bookshelf Reviews -- Fiction Fire -- Gillian Adams -- Jill Williamson -- Katie McCurdy -- Kurly Katie's Ruminations -- The Pen and the Parchment -- Rachelle Rea -- SLY Games -- Sugar Peach -- Terri Harr 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Character Interview: Martyr from "Replication: The Jason Experiment" by Jill Williamson

Martyr's trailer:

(Some of the answers may contain spoilers for those who have not read Replication.)

Hi, Martyr! You once told Abby that red is your favorite color. Why is red your favorite?

Martyr: Because it's bright and strong. It always makes my heart race a little to see something red. Even with food. When I see a red food, I know it will taste wonderful.

I think I know what you mean. I love bright, red strawberries, especially when they're dipped in chocolate!

What do you and the other Jasons do for fun?

Martyr: When we were smaller, we played on the playground and played running games or hiding games. But the older Jasons don't get much free time. I liked to talk with Baby, whether we were sitting in cafeteria or walking around the track. I liked to throw balls back and forth with Baby. And eating food was sometimes fun. Some Jasons draw art. Dr. Max's class was fun as well. He sometimes told us things the other doctors did not. Talking with Dr. Goyer was also fun, but he was not a teacher, so we did not see him often.

Now that we don't live at the Jason Farms, we have more free time. I have been helping Abby teach the younger boys about the outside world. Some of the Jasons like to paint and draw. I like to make plans with Abby about things we will do to help the boys grow smart and be free. That is fun for me.

It's the beginning of a new year. Do you have any New Year's resolutions?

Martyr: I didn't know the word "resolution," but Abby has taught me how to use the computer's dictionary. (Dictionaries are fun for me. I'd like to add that to my list of fun things in the previous question.)

Now that I am free, I am determined to see that the Jasons--Abby calls them my brothers--have the chance at a regular life, like other people living in the country of the United States of America. Dr. Goyer tells me it will take time to ensure that my brothers have equal rights. I am willing to be patient and trust the Creator of Everything in this resolution. I am confident things will turn out well.

I think dictionaries are alot of fun too! :-)

At the end of Replication, there was a hint of further adventures. Will we hear more about you, Abby, and the other Jasons soon?

Martyr: I cannot give a proper answer to this. There is much going on. Dr. Goyer and I are trying to learn that location of the two other labs called Gunnolf and Camp Ragnar. And there is a reason that Dr. Kane wanted the little boys and said they were worth three million dollars each. But we cannot figure out that reason yet. We are still working on this. And we will prevail. I do not know if the publisher will want to share this story with all of you. But I am certain that our storyteller, Jill Williamson, will let you know the answer to that as soon as she knows it. :)

Thank you so much, Martyr, for stopping by and answering these questions!

(Stop by tomorrow for my review of Replication: The Jason Experiment and the Novel Teen blog tour.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Character Interview: Abby from "Replication: The Jason Experiment" by Jill Williamson

Abby's trailer:

So, Abby, what do you like to do for fun?

I used to hang out with my friends from youth group and do teen activities with my church, but now that I've moved, I spend most of my time reading Forensics Magazine and CRS Quarterly (which is Creation Research Society's quarterly journal). I really need to make some new friends. Right now it's all homework and reading and petting my cat.

Martyr was fascinated when he first encountered stars, a cat, a pair of Christmas socks, and other small things we often take for granted. What are some "small" things you've come to appreciate?

The biggest thing I came to appreciate was my dad's love for me. But I know what you mean about Marty and the little things. Since I've known him, I look at world differently sometimes. Like the freedom to wear what I want each day or being able to go outside. The beauty of our world and how truly amazing it is. And color. I never really thought about how wonderful colors are until I met Marty.

After meeting Martyr and learning the secret behind the Jason Farms, what have you learned about God's purpose for you and for others?

Well, I learned that God's plans aren't always clear at first. But if we trust him with our life each day, he will lead us right where he wants us to be. But we've got to be open to his plans and not so obsessed with our own goals and stuff. Not that we can't have goals, but I tend to get intense about my goals. And now I try to really trust God each day.

As for other people, I don't know their hearts or how God might be planning to use them. But I trust that God is way smarter than me, and he has amazing plans for every person on this planet. That's really pretty exciting to think about, you know?

Yes, it is! :-D

It's the beginning of a new year. Do you have any New Year's resolutions?

I used to be really obsessive about New Year's resolutions. But this year I decided not to make any specific plans or goals. I mean, Marty looks at life in such a neat way, I guess he's rubbed off on me a little. I want to trust God the way he does. So maybe I did make one resolution after all: to trust God with each day.

I'd say that's if you had to make just one resolution, trusting God more is the best. :-) Thanks so much for visiting today, Abby!

(Come back tomorrow for Martyr's interview!)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: "Love Finds You in Sunset Beach, Hawaii" by Robin Jones Gunn

Love Finds You in Sunset Beach, Hawaii

Sierra Jensen is in sore need of a vacation, and she's the last one to realize it. So when she is let go from her job in Brazil, her friend, Mariana, encourages her to take a vacation with her to Hawaii. Sierra hasn't been back to the States in four years, and her sister and brother-in-law are going to be in Hawaii attending a wedding, so she reluctantly agrees to go, thinking maybe she can figure out where her life is going next.

Jordan Bryce knows exactly where his life is going. He and his best friend, Derek, have been following their dream for years: Derek, making it big in the pro-surfing circuit, and Jordan, becoming a famous photographer for surfing magazines. An assignment in Hawaii to photograph the pro-surfers at Sunset Beach seems like the perfect step in the right direction for Jordan's career. A couple of chance (or maybe divine?) encounters with a young woman with long, curly hair like a mermaid and Derek's change of heart about his own surfing dream, causes Jordan to wonder what he really wants his future to look like.

I have been a fan of Robin Jones Gunn's books for years, her Sierra Jensen series being one of my favorites. You can read a little of what happens to to Sierra during her freshman year of college in Gunn's Christy and Todd: The College Years, but I always felt like Sierra's story was always a bit unresolved. So when Love Finds You in Sunset Beach, Hawaii was announced, I was ecstatic that I would get to read more about spunky, independent Sierra.

I definitely wasn't disappointed with this story, though I was a bit surprised at how mellow Sierra seemed compared to her younger, fiery self. However, I also kind of liked the change, which showed how much Sierra had matured. She also undergoes a certain amount of growth in Sunset Beach that merged the seasoned young woman with her old spark. Also, it took me a little while to get used to the switching point of views between Sierra and Jordan, because I was used to Gunn's usual approach of sticking with one character point of view. However, I quickly got used to that change as well and ended up enjoying it, for I got to see their circumstances and relationship from two different perspectives.

Joining Sierra on her vacation to Hawaii was like visiting with an old friend. Gunn's books are always like that: filled with warmth, fun, and God-Lovers who grow in their relationships with God and others in very organic and relateable ways. Love Finds You in Sunset Beach, Hawaii is a story that can stand on it's own without having read previous books, though the past stories enhance the present one. It's a story of dreams ending, dreams changing, and dreams growing, and the change in seasons for two characters who I would become friends with any day.

Genre: Christian Fiction/Romance
Ages: 13 and up
Pages: 309
Publication Date: 2011

Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Review: "Princess of the Midnight Ball" by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball

King Gregor...waved the slipper in her face now. "And how is it that you get out of your rooms to begin with? I lock you in every night my own self! Hey? Hey? Answer me! Put you in different rooms, and I wake up to find all the doors open and you all lying about the rug in Rose's sitting room like a litter of puppies! What was that about, hey?"

But King Gregor won't get an answer from his twelve daughters. It's not that they are rebellious and refuse to speak. They physically can't answer questions about where they disappear to at night. Why, you may ask? They're cursed.

For years, eighteen-year-old Princess Rose of Westfalin and her eleven younger sisters have been living under a curse they inherited from their deceased mother, Queen Maude. Every night at midnight, they are summoned to the evil King of Under Stone's enchanted dance.

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George is an absolutely lovely version of the Brothers Grimm tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" (aka "The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes" or "The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces"). Rose is a heroine who carries the heavy burden of being a mother-figure to her younger sisters in addition to the duties of being the Crown Princess. When her father decides to auction her off as a bride to the first man who can solve the mystery of where the princesses disappear every night, Rose has a whole other problem on her hands. For every suitor who attempts to solve the mystery ends up dying a mysterious death. This does not help foreign relations one little bit.

Galen is a former soldier who now serves as an under-gardener at the palace. He's a kind young man who befriends the princesses, especially Princess Rose. When Galen volunteers to solve the princesses' mystery, Rose and her sisters fear for his life. But Galen has some tricks up his sleeve that include an invisibility cloak and his knitting hobby.

In fact, this story reminds me alot of something Galen might knit with his pair of very special, silver knitting needles. Woven within is suspense, humor, mystery, loveable main characters, and a downright nasty villain. Add in a glimmer of romance and a shimmer of silvery enchantment, and you have a classic fairy tale to wrap around yourself and enjoy.

Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Ages: 12 and up
Pages: 272
Publication Date: 2009

*Extras: In the back of the book, there are a couple knitting patterns to make replicas of two important knitted items in the story. There's also a Pronunciation Guide and the first chapter of the sequel, Princess of Glass, which is based on the fairy tale, "Cinderella." Poppy, one of the twelve dancing princesses (and perhaps the most sassy), is the main character.