Monday, April 30, 2012

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting — he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. 

The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. 

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.


This book was brought to my attention by a wonderful friend who is always telling me great books to read. He did, in fact loan me his copy until mine arrived from the publisher for review. I had to struggle not to cry all over it. 

This book, at first glance, looks very much like a monster in the closet, creeping up the dark and hollow places kind of book. In some ways it is, but not like you think. 

First, there are monsters. Yes. Of course. What kind of story would it be without one? Patrick Ness has created a story that is a tribute to those dealing with bullying, grief and death. Heavy prospect. But this book does it and with a grace to its pages that left me breathless and openly sobbing as I turned the last page. I can't remember the last time a book did that for me. 

Without telling everything in the story (but oh, I really, really want to this time!) I can tell you that it is wonderful for anyone dealing with hardships in life. Grief, death, bullying, anger issues, discontent at name it, it's in there, complete with some pretty amazing artwork to boot. 

And finally, the biggest monsters may not even be the ones in the closet, or staring in through the window...they may be in the darkest recesses of our soul.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Social Punk Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.


I received this e-book from the author in conjunction with the blog tour. It is a great futuristic adventure!

What I Liked:

This book had a voice that grabbed you from the first page. "E" as Ima likes to be called, is a character you can identify with even as she is drawn from a world of terror at the hands of someone who is supposed to be protecting her, and lead into a world that is unlike anything she has ever known. (No spoilers here!)

What I Didn't:

Not a thing. 


Social Punk is a foray into different forms of reality and is very much for an older teen audience, due to some sexual situations. They are handled well, however, and do not detract from the story in any way. If anything, they serve to give Ima greater depth. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games you should give this book, soon to be a trilogy, a try!


Here are some excerpts from the book:

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Excerpt #1: Prologue

After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.

A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.

Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.

He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.

But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.

He looked at his last and final creation sitting in the chair across from him—his own son, not awakened yet. The law forbade him to have any children of his own, so this boy would substitute.

But he had done the unthinkable with this creation—he had bestowed on it his own thoughts, emotions, and decision-making processes. He’d given the boy his own mind, his own physical characteristics, his own wants and desires.

He had never done so with any of the others because of the dangers of investing too heavily in any one of his subjects. But who could he kid? He had not stayed objective thus far, watching some of his subjects more closely than others, wishing for the happiness of some at the expense of others. He had become an abomination, a monster of his own doing, who had created subjects only to watch them suffer.

He couldn’t forgive himself; not now, not ever. His eyes lingered on the vial that sat next to his breakfast smoothie, that he’d stowed away for the day when they destroyed all his work, his entire world. He would save it, tuck it away for now, for as long as he could protect them. When things spun out of his control, he would drink it and end himself the way he had ended them.

In the ancient stories, gods frequently gave their sons as gifts. Now, he would give his son as a gift to her, number 3281. So she could be happy in her last months on earth, before they destroyed her with the rest of them.

Excerpt #2: Food-related

Twelve cups of water sat on the table, four for each of them. Next to each cup sat a pill—yellow for fat, red for carbs, blue for protein, and green for vitamins.

Vaughn took the red pill, ripped it in half like a pack of sugar, and poured it into his cup. He set his cup into a contraption on the table and it whirled and hissed. When the machine finished, the cup had a pink, swirly liquid inside.

Nahum looked at the four cups in distaste.

“Not up to your standards?” Vaughn asked, shooting his drink. He swallowed the mixture in one large gulp. “I would get you something else, but we’re rebuilding our hash. We can’t afford real food, plus it’s bad for you anyway. Extremely difficult to maintain a balanced diet.”

“Synthetic food can’t cost that much,” Nahum countered. He grinned. “We had it in our little fake world, at least.”

Vaughn chuckled. “Synthetic food is even worse for you than real food. Shortens your life. We stopped eating that stuff at the turn of the century. It gave people long-term hyperactivity, which can kill you. LTH took out a lot of the population, kind of like cancer in your day, except a bigger deal because the population had dwindled so low already. Plus, people live indefinitely now.”

Nahum’s nose twitched as he laughed. “People don’t live indefinitely.”

But Vaughn looked genuinely surprised. “Of course we do. Have you seen anyone who looks over the age of twenty-five to you?”

“What does that mean, though?” Ima asked out of curiosity. “How could you live indefinitely? You may not look older, but you still age.”

Vaughn grinned. “Like I said before—there’s a lot you don’t understand about this world.”

Excerpt #3: Fashion-related

A woman with long purple eyelashes, who kind of reminded Ima of a butterfly, brushed by Ima with tattooed art entirely covering both her arms. One of the tattoos started out as a young boy who grew just a little older with each second, until he looked like a man. To Ima’s amazement, the tattoo played like a home video.

Ima looked at Vaughn for explanation. “How—?”

“Pixel skin-grafts,” Vaughn whispered into ima’s ear. “Some people do their entire bodies in them. Doesn’t do much in terms of protection, but lets you change your outfit on a Clout.”

Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire ( and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit (

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