Tuesday, February 11, 2014

No Returns (The Battleband Saga #1)

19489832Giles, Gail and Vanasse, Deb. No Returns (The Battleband Saga #1)
February 12th 2014 by Running Fox Books
Copy received by the publisher

Pod and his friends Flaco and Manny have been working on songs for their band, Fly, for a while, but things are heating up now that they have a spot in the Battleband competition. They all want to win, for various reasons. Pod struggles to control his world since his mother disappeared and his police officer father has become distant. Flaco's abuelo is elderly and ill, and Manny is conflicted about his upcoming bar mitzvah. When Manny's lyrics summon the James Cagney look-alike Fred, it seems that the group may have made a deal with the devil-- their souls in exchange for a chance of fame for Fly. Sure enough, the win the battle of the bands, are suddenly popular at school, and have the opportunity to open for a famous band called Seventh Circle. When Fred wants them to sing a disturbing song about suicide, they know that they have to step away from fame before Fred uses the band as an instrument of evil. With the help of their school librarian, they find problems with Fred's "contract", but will it be enough to save them? Since what Pod wants most is to have his mother back, and Fred seems to have some knowledge of her, there may be another deal in the works in book two.
Strengths: The characters are all interesting and engaging, and I enjoyed how the families are all present and supportive but not really clued in to everything the boys are doing. There are good details about performing with a band, and the reactions of the peers in school are realistic. Love that the librarian is the one who can help them defeat the devil!
Weaknesses: There is a bit of a disconnect between the style and the target demographic. The boys are all 13, but the style of the book is more descriptive and slower paced, which seems to appeal more to high school boys, who also are more likely to have a band. The Faustian connection also is something that might be more suited to high school readers, so I wish the characters had been older.

17559899 Simmons, Kristen. Three.
February 11th 2014 by Tor Teen
E ARC from Netgalley.

This continues the series begun with Article 5 and continued with Breaking Point, and is high demand in my library by dystopian lovers. In fact, if this is back ordered in my recent Baker and Taylor order, I may need to break out the Barnes and Noble gift cards and get a copy. I even have a teacher chomping at the bit to get it. That said, I couldn't bring myself to read almost 400 pages on my Nook when they weather was so bad. I'll read it this summer, when the thought of the world coming to an end doesn't seem quite as likely!

From Goodreads.com
"Ember Miller and Chase Jennings are ready to stop running. After weeks spent in hiding as two of the Bureau of Reformation’s most wanted criminals, they have finally arrived at the safe house, where they hope to live a safe and quiet existence.

And all that’s left is smoking ruins.

Devastated by the demolition of their last hope, Ember and Chase follow the only thing left to them—tracks leading away from the wreckage. The only sign that there may have been survivors.

With their high profile, they know they can’t stay out in the open for long. They take shelter in the wilderness and amidst the ruins of abandoned cities as they follow the tracks down the coast, eventually finding refugees from the destroyed safe house. Among them is someone from Chase’s past—someone he never thought he’d see again.

Banding together, they search for a place to hide, aiming for a settlement a few of them have heard about…a settlement that is rumored to house the nebulous organization known as Three. The very group that has provided Ember with a tiny ray of hope ever since she was first forced on the run.

Three is responsible for the huge network of underground safe houses and resistance groups across the country. And they may offer Ember her only chance at telling the world her story.

At fighting back."

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