Summary: Leah Westfall has the unusual ability to sense the presence of gold. It is a talent that many would kill for. When her uncle does just that, kSummary: Leah Westfall has the unusual ability to sense the presence of gold. It is a talent that many would kill for. When her uncle does just that, killing both her mother and father, Leah knows she must run away. She decides to try to meet up with her best friend Jefferson who is on his way to California for the gold rush. Knowing that her uncle will be looking for a girl, Leah, disguises herself as Lee and finds work to help pay her way out west. The journey across the American west is dangerous, but Leah hopes the west will be a place where she can make her new home.
Review: This book is essentially the journey. You are definitely left knowing that there will be more to come. This story tells how Leah will get to California, hopefully the other novels will tell us what happens when she gets there. While this novel doesn’t tell you the whole story it ends at a satisfying place
I loved Leah’s character and how she develops over the course of the novel.. I can’t wait to see how Leah will develop and change in the future novels. Leah is a strong character. Her fear and courage are realistically portrayed. She isn’t perfect, but she does her best.
I loved the pacing of the novel. I couldn’t stand stopping the story when I had to put the book down. It was engrossing.
Audiobook Review: Erin Mallon did a remarkable job narrating the book. She is a talented narrator and makes the voices believable and easily distinguished from each other. The audiobook is produced by HarperAudio and is 10 hours and 53 minutes look. The production is well done and this is a great production.
Overall: This was a great Western; something somewhat unique for YAs. The character was interesting and story compelling. Highly recommended.
Summary: When her oldest sister, Wren, is seriously injured attempting to find a suitable fuel replacement so they can power their cities and ships, anSummary: When her oldest sister, Wren, is seriously injured attempting to find a suitable fuel replacement so they can power their cities and ships, and the planet that supplies most of their food is devastated, Asa fears losing her sister and the food shortages her kingdom is facing. When her father arranges a marriage for her other older sister, Emmie, with the neighboring House of Westlet, Asa switches places with her sister to protect Wren from her father’s threats to disconnect her life support to make Emmie his heir. The marriage is a blood bond that cannot be broken and everyone is furious about the switch. Asa must learn to navigate her new house and show them that she is loyal or her people will starve and her sister may die.
Review: This was an interesting read. It is actually very fast paced and the shorter chapters make this a great pick for science fiction loving reluctant readers. This book has it all, science fiction, romance, and politics.
Asa is a likable character, but she is incredibly naive. She doesn’t realize the consequences of her actions and often leaps before she looks. Her emotions lead her and her desire to save Wren. In the end, Asa wins people over by simply being herself and staying true to what she wants.
The world is a little hard to get into, but eventually it begins to make sense. I love the space travel.
Overall: This is a fast paced interested story. Perfect for fans of romance in space. There isn’t a lot of depth here, but the story was just plain fun.
Cautions for Sensitive Readers: Sex: Nothing graphic, though Asa does sleep with her husband, but if anything happens there is no reference to it. Violence: Some Drugs/Alcohol: Mild Language: None ...more
Summary: Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to tell truth from lies. Her threadsister, Iseult, is a threadwitch able to see the ties that bind and break. SafSummary: Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to tell truth from lies. Her threadsister, Iseult, is a threadwitch able to see the ties that bind and break. Safiya’s witchery is one of the most sought after abilities in the Witchlands. Rulers would kill to possess her for her talents, talents which she must keep hidden from all but her threadsister. When Safiya and Iseult run afoul of some very powerful individuals and a Bloodwitch, they find themselves chased from their home in the city. But it seems that there is more at stake than either of them planned for as they are pursued across the seas by those who have discovered Safiya’s witching talents.
Review: This book is an engrossing fantasy. You will fall in love with the mischievous Safiya and Iseult from the very beginning. The world building for this novel is expansive. You have three countries nearing the end of a twenty year truce all existing on one continent. Tensions are high and war seems imminent. Dennard introduces the reader to a land where different people have different witcheries and skills. Some skills are so highly prized that countries would be willing to risk war to capture individuals with those abilities. Rarely in YA do we see such detailed world building in a fantasy.
The characters in the novel are well developed and numerous. Dennard fully fleshes out her primary characters Safiya and Iseult. Both characters are well drawn and you know how much their devotion and friendship motivates them. Mirek and the Bloodwitch Aeduan are also interesting characters with their own motives for their actions. You want to find out as much as you can about them all.
Audiobook Review: My only complaints about this book concern the audio version. There is a lot to keep track of in this book with place names, countries, characters, etc… As with any detailed novel, sometimes keeping track of who’s who in an audiobook can be challenging. Sometimes the names are too similar, and at other times it is just a matter of remembering all the characters, places, and countries involved. The second issue I had with the audiobook was that it was difficult, especially at the beginning, to discern who is speaking. The accents involved are confusing at first, and so it becomes tricky to tell characters apart. As time goes on you get used to the narration and this becomes easier, but it is a challenge especially at the beginning, but it does continue throughout the book. The audiobook is produced by Listening Library and narrated by Cassandra Campbell. Campbell is a skilled narrator, but I don’t think the accents and tones of voice used for the narration were enough to help the listener discern between characters. I had trouble at the beginning telling the difference between Iseult’s voice and Safiya’s.
Overall: Overall this is an excellent YA fantasy that will appeal to both adult and teen readers. Be prepared for detailed world building and a little bit of time adjusting to the new fantasy world. I can’t wait to read the next book!
Cautions for Sensitive Readers: Sex: None Violence: Yes Drugs/Alcohol: Some drinking at a party Language: Nothing significant ...more
”Run Fast. Trust No One. Always Carry Your Knife.” Those are the rules that have kept Jin alive in the walled city of Hak Nam. Jin is actuallySummary:
”Run Fast. Trust No One. Always Carry Your Knife.” Those are the rules that have kept Jin alive in the walled city of Hak Nam. Jin is actually a girl named Jin Ling who left her home after her father sells her sister to the Brotherhood—the organized crime syndicate run by Longwai. For two years she has hidden, disguised as a boy and a vagrant to try and locate her sister Mei Yee. When Dai approaches her with a job as a runner for the Brotherhood, Jin sees her chance to try to find her sister, but Dai has a secret of his own for wanting access to the Brotherhood.
Review: This action packed novel is told from the points of view of the three main characters, Jin Ling, Mei Yee, and Dai. All three characters are motivated by their own needs and goals and all three have trouble trusting others, and knowing how to trust. All three also have many secrets they keep to protect themselves. The character development with these three characters is well done. Each character has something to motivate their actions.
There is a lot of action in this book. Despite being over 400 pages, this book was a surprisingly fast read. You had to know what was going to happen next and much of the action leaves the reader on the edge of their seats wanting more.
The setting of the walled city is believably drawn. Graudin used much of the information that she had found about the walled city of Kowloon in Hong Kong as a resource for her own walled city of Hak Nam. While the events of the book are fictional, the walled city itself was based on fact.
When I first started reading this novel, I thought I was reading something that was fantasy, then elements of the real world started appearing and I was having trouble dating the time period in the book. Eventually, the more I found out, and the more I read about the real Kowloon Walled City, the easier it was to place the book in a timeline. I say this because it may be difficult for readers who don’t know about Kowloon Walled City to figure out the time period and the setting as there is very little introduction—the book jumps right to the action.
Overall: Overall this was an interesting read. I love it when I learn something from a book, and I really learned a lot. The author’s notes at the end were very informative about the Kowllon Walled City which helped me envision her city or Hak Nam—it might have been more helpful if these had come at the beginning of the book instead. I would definitely recommend this to readers who like realistic fiction, interesting settings, and nonstop action.
Cautions for Sensitive Readers: Sex: Mei Yee is sold by her father to a brothel. While you know that she is a prostitute, there are no graphic sexual descriptions. Violence: Lots of violence. Drugs/Alcohol: The primary bad guy is a drug lord who addicts one of the girls to heroine after she tries to run away. Language: Words like “whore” are used to describe Mei Yee and other girls in the brothel and other language may be present, but it wasn’t overly used. ...more
Summary: When Kate Thompson’s father is brutally murdered, she disguises herself as a boy and rides after the band of outlaws that murdered him, took hSummary: When Kate Thompson’s father is brutally murdered, she disguises herself as a boy and rides after the band of outlaws that murdered him, took his journal, and burned their house. Along the way she picks up some unlikely and somewhat unwelcome help in the form of two brothers whose father was a friend of her own father and a young Apache girl. Kate wants revenge, the gang wants the gold, and everyone has their own motives. It is a dangerous and dusty path the journal will lead Kate on, a path that will lead her to betrayal.
Review: There aren’t a lot of westerns written for teens so I will admit I was surprised to see this one. It is definitely worth the time to read.
I love action packed books and this one had plenty of action. Shootouts in saloons, dessert valley’s, and loads of danger keep the pages turning in this novel. The action in this book is made for those western films—I would love to see this one adapted to film.
Many of the characters are a bit one dimensional—including in Kate herself. Kate’s character is as tough as it gets. She is determined and willing to risk her life for her own revenge. She also isn’t willing to let anyone stand in her way. It is this single-mindedness that trips her up along the way, and leaves her character a bit flat. The bad guys are true bad guys with no redeeming qualities. In this sense they are rather too are rather one dimensional, but the serve the purpose of forwarding the plot. Jesse and Will are more thoroughly drawn than the bad guys, but they were a bit stereotypical.
Characterization aside, it is the action that keeps the plot moving forward and makes this a fun read. It has all the action you could want from a rough and tumble western.
Overall: Overall, this was a fun read. While the character development wasn’t as strong as it could have been the action was great. It was a quick read. Westerns are rare in YA fiction, so this was a welcome change to the glut of paranormal stuff that floods the YA market.
Cautions for Sensitive Readers: Sex: Referred to, but nothing explicit. Violence: Yes. Drugs/Alcohol: Some drinking. Language: Some mild language, but nothing explicit. ...more
Summary: It has been eight years since the fall of the Old Republic. As the Empire continues to expand, the latest planet to fall under Imperial controSummary: It has been eight years since the fall of the Old Republic. As the Empire continues to expand, the latest planet to fall under Imperial control is the mountain planet of Jelucan where two young people will find their future with the Empire.
Ciena, a daughter of the first wave of settlers to Jelucan is part of a proud yet materially poor people. She has “been raised knowing her word was her bond and her honor the only possession that could ever truly matter” (10). Thane, is the younger son of the second wave. The wave of settlers who brought prosperity to Jelucan. He has been raised with all the advantages.
On the day of Jelucan’s annexation into the Empire, these two young people meet and forge a bond that will link them through the trials and hardships of the following years. Both dream of being pilots, both enlist in the Imperial military and strive to achieve those goals. But as Thane gets older he begins to see what the Empire really is, and decides to join the Rebel Alliance to fight them. Ciena is trapped by her word and her honor, and now her best friend is also her enemy.
This novel spans the time following the fall of the Old Republic to the Battle of Jakku.
Review: This book is the first book in the new canon of Star Wars novels. In the past I have read some of the old canon and found the stories to be interesting, but suffering from mediocre writing. I held off reading this book for just that reason. I expected more of the same. It wasn’t until one of my coworkers listed this book as one of her favorite books of the year that I took notice. I am very glad I listened.
I love the story. It is a classic theme. Two young people on opposite sides of a war. Both their stories were believably drawn, and Gray does an amazing job with her characters. While the other Imperials and Rebels are for the most part your standard cliché bad guys or good guys, there are some really interesting characters that began to stand out in the novel. Nash Windrider is perhaps the most memorable. He was from Alderaan and watched as his planet was destroyed by the first Death Star.
Of course Thane and Ciena are the characters that are the best developed. Both characters struggle with their loyalties. Cienna has given her word that she will serve the Empire, and for her and her people, you cannot break your word once given. Thane grew up always doubting the people in charge after being abused by his own father. He begins to see past the Empire’s façade and discovers they don’t have the best interests of the people at heart. Through it all these two can’t cut the ties that bind them to each other.
The action is there of course, and much of it shadows what we know from the films. It keeps us riveted. Even though we know much of what is about to happen, we can’t wait to see how these two characters will react to it and what they will do.
Overall: Overall this is a novel of phenomenal characters. Both Thane and Ciena are well developed and extremely believable. I love how the story shadowed the timeline of the films and fit these characters into those stories. The only thing I regret is that there isn’t more, because when I finished—that was all that I wanted; to keep on reading.
Cautions for Sensitive Readers: Sex: It is referred to, but there isn’t anything explicit. Violence: Yes. Drugs/Alcohol: Some drinking. Language: Nothing significant that I can remember. ...more
Winter was everything I had hoped for in a conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles. It brought all our favorite characters back together again for the finaWinter was everything I had hoped for in a conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles. It brought all our favorite characters back together again for the final showdown against Lavana. In this novel Lavana proves just how evil she really is and the desperate lengths she will go to keep Cinder from her rightful throne. Full of action, and details where nothing ever goes right for our heroes, it was a great conclusion to this series....more
Summary: It's the year 2575 and Kady Grant lives on a remote planet. When Kady started her day, her thoughts were of school, college, and breaking up wSummary: It's the year 2575 and Kady Grant lives on a remote planet. When Kady started her day, her thoughts were of school, college, and breaking up with her boyfriend Ezra. Little did she know that those would be the farthest things from her mind later that day. When her planet is viciously attacked by an evil corporation who wants the planet for themselves and no witnesses, Kady's life becomes a high tech struggle for survival.
Escaping the planet is only step one. Three ships survive the attack on Kady's planet, a battleship who came to their aide and two science vessels. All three packed are with refugees, but a plague released by their attackers contaminates one of the three ships and to make matters worse the battleship's artificial intelligence (AI) may be insane. And now they are being chased by the one surviving attacking vessel who wants to eliminate the witnesses--all of them. Attacked from both within and without, Kady and Ezra must use all of their skills to survive.
Plague, madness, and a crazy and murderous AI, will anyone survive?
Review: The novel is told in the form of transmissions, briefings, and someone making observations of videos taken from the ships. It is an interesting format, because it is like you are reading an after action report with all the accompanying information. Overall this makes for an interesting read. While most of the documents that make up the text happen in past tense, you have a narrator who is obviously commenting on the past events. At first this was a little confusing, but you get used to it as the novel progresses.
Kady is a hard character to like. You want to sympathize with her because she just lost her planet and watched many of the people she knew die, but she is somewhat cold. Still this distance is important because it lets you observe how strong she actually is. The relationship between Ezra and Kady is complicated, but Ezra's character is well drawn and interesting. Kady who is obviously not a team player is the opposite of her boyfriend Ezra.
As mentioned before the novel consists of transcripts. What is interesting is that they have been redacted to remove the offensive language, and there is a lot of redacted offensive language in this book.
Audiobook: When I purchased my copy of the audiobook from Audible, I noticed in the reviews that a lot of people were bashing the book because the offensive language was edited out. Some were angry stating that "an unabridged audiobook should be performed exactly as the author wrote it, and not editing out swearing." Well guess what folks...the audiobook is performed exactly as written. The editing out of the swear words was not something the audiobook producers did, it was how the author wrote it. Get over yourselves and crack open the book before you make accusations about the audiobook being censored. All the swear words in the print version were redacted, and I personally thought the readers did a great job emphasizing those edits--it can't have been easy.
Now that I have gotten that off my chest, let me say that the audiobook was amazing. I really liked how the narrators read the story. There were three narrators for this book (Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, and Jonathan McClain) and they did a great job. It is impressive.
Overall: The action never stops in this novel. Fast paced and gritty this novel will leave you out of breath. Highly recommended!
Cautions for Sensitive Readers: Violence: Lots of violence some graphic Sex: Is referenced, but there is nothing explicit. Language: This novel has a lot of redacted swearing. In essence you get the idea, but it isn't explicitly said. Drugs/Alcohol: Some reference to drugs and alcohol, but nothing explicit.
Steve Jobs was one of the most influential figures in computing and technology. This biography is a remarkable look into his life, his work, and his dSteve Jobs was one of the most influential figures in computing and technology. This biography is a remarkable look into his life, his work, and his determination. You can see how he shaped Apple into the company it is today, and you can see his influence on every tablet and smartphone you hold in your hand. Broken into sections based on a speech he gave to a graduating class at Stanford University, this book provides interesting insight into one of the great figures in computer history.
This is a well written and very readable biography. I highly recommend it.
Cautions for Sensitive Readers:
Violence: No Language: No Sex: No Drugs: Some drug use is mentioned....more